Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Boys are Back...and so am I!

Happy post-Thanksgiving ya'll!

While I spent most of my holiday lounging in the sun and sand in Florida (or napping on the couch...you know, whatevs), I managed to take in a few sporting events. Namely, the two early NFL games on Thanksgiving and, most importantly, the Backyard Brawl between WVU and Pitt on Saturday night.

*Please insert here a semi-sincere apology to my family for the death glares I gave them if they got too close to the remote or even looked like they were contemplating changing the channel. Also? Accept my sincere thanks for locking the children out on the lanai for most of the night.*

Anyhoo, as I was flying home Saturday, something pretty big happened in the sports world. Yes, NBA fans....it finally happened. Early Saturday morning, a tentative deal was reached between players and owners to start the 2011 season on Christmas Day, thus ending the 149-day lockout.

While not released yet, team schedules will be sporting a new look. With 48 in-conference and 18 out-of-conference match-ups, a 66 game agenda is in the works. And in that new layout, teams are expected to play back-to-back-to-back games, including up through the 2nd round of the playoffs.

I hope the players were keeping in shape over in Europe or while they were bumming around for the last few months. I tend to think this is David Stern's idea of a gag gift....because we all know that exhaustion is the present that keeps on giving.

I'm guessing most fans aren't really interested in the terms laid out in the new CBA. As long as the season tips off, the deets are just semantics. For those of you who ARE interested, however, here's a quick summation:

The owners won.

Sure, the players were victorious on smaller issues such as minimum team salary and escrow. But in the big picture, 90% of the concessions went to the owners. You know, those same concessions that could have been made MONTHS ago.

I guess it just goes to show that stubborness gets you a lot in life...like unemployment.

So, while there's still some work left to do, such as reforming the union, getting players back from overseas, and approving the deal via a majority, it looks like Santa will be giving all the girls and boys a very-NBA Christmas.

Let's hope that it's not just a lump of coal waiting to happen.

Image provided by the-sport-report.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks

Next week is Thanksgiving. While the holiday is best known for its plethora of food, the Macy's Parade, and being a day of rest before Black Friday, it's also a time that most of us stop to give thanks for the goodness in our lives.

In the wake of the Penn State and now possibly Syracuse scandals, the absurdity of the importance we place on sports in our lives has never been more at the forefront. However, sports are still one of the most popular forms of entertainment we have. Whether we use them as means of escapism, fulfilling vicarious dreams, or just as a way to feel camaraderie with our fellow peers, the simple truth is.....sports DO matter.

So with that in mind, I'd like to take the opportunity to give thanks to some of the sports-related tidbits in my life:


Maybe it's the girl in me, but nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than to see unexpected tenderness from big burly athletes. MLB players with their kids during the All-Star game? Forget it.

But what really gets me on a week to week basis is the tradition of the Shepherd Rams football team petting Zan the Ram as they run on the field. Coach Monte Cater, always the last out of the locker room, never fails to take a moment to give the woolly guy a pat on the head. And that never fails to make me smile.


On the flip side of the previous thanks-inducing moment, I'm thankful that Bruce Irvin came into our lives at WVU. Let's face it, we like bruisers on our football team. Guys who aren't afraid to go out and hurt somebody. And maybe themselves in the process.

Hello, Owen Schmitt hitting himself in the head with a helmet anyone?

That's why, on any given Saturday, it's a welcome sight to see Bruce Irvin taking down quarterbacks, receivers, and basically anyone on the other team he can get his hands on. He's a scary dude, and he knows it. And honestly, that's what I love about him.


I know, I know, a lot of people think this is one of the more barbaric traditions in sports. But fighting in hockey is as natural as breathing. Why? I don't know. Maybe because they're wearing skates. Maybe because it's cold. Maybe Canadians are more testosterone-ly fueled than normal dudes. It just is. Thank goodness.


I'm thankful for this one for two reasons. One, I had no idea how to Dougie until former WVU basketball player John Flowers brought it to my attention. I liked the song. I knew there was a dance. I just didn't know what it was.

However, I think this was the moment that really put Flowers on every one's radar. Sure, we had seen the videos he made during WVU's 2010 run to the Final Four. But this video put him in FRONT of the camera. And, let's be real, kinda made him a legend.


This may have some of you going "Huh?" right about now, but hear me out. Having a heated rivalry makes things fun. Legendary Jack Fleming, whose historic call of the Penn State game I posted in my Halloween piece, is famous for his "Hating Pitt" anecdote.

Beano Cook, a long-time "Pitt Man", told the tale in a Post-Gazette feature:

"Jack Fleming's house was above the old stadium," Cook said. "He told me, when he was a child, Pitt would come out on the field, and he would sit on his mother's lap. His mother would point down at them. And his mother would say, 'Son, that's Pitt. You hate Pitt now. You hate Pitt tomorrow. You hate Pitt until the day you die. After that, you will hate Pitt for eternity.'"

Hating Pitt gives us purpose. It gives us motivation. And if nothing else, it gives us a great slogan.


Finally, I'm thankful that in my family, sports is a means of spending time together. Every other Saturday in the fall, we trudge up to Morgantown for a game. Every New Years since 2000, we travel to whatever city WVU is playing a bowl game in. Any time Shepherd has a home basketball game in the winter, you can find us sitting on the bleachers behind the team bench. It's not abnormal for us to hit up a Suns game in the spring/summer. I'm blessed that I live so close to my family to begin with. But the fact that we get to share in an activity we all enjoy on a regular basis.....it's pretty much one of the best things life has to offer.

So sports fans, what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Are you planning on watching football next Thursday? Let me know!


*On a side note, I'll be heading down to Florida next week to spend the holiday with my family in the sun and sand. Ergo, no posts. I know you'll miss me. I'll surely miss you. See ya on the flip side!


Images provided by Shepherd University, fauxbruceirvin, jasonfeldman.files, and jedword.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm on a Boat

Amidst all the hoopla and ridiculousness surrounding college football this past week, college basketball got off to a rather inconspicuous start.

In a normal year, sports fans just aren't ready to pay attention to their school's hard court squads. Football season is winding down, and those who root for bowl team eligibles are anxiously following each and every game outcome.

This year, well.... actual football may be an afterthought as well, considering all the craziness that's gone down. As the Penn State scandal rocked the country, the capacity to appreciate the finer things in athletics seemed to fall by the wayside.

Which is a shame. Because this Friday night something spectacular and unprecedented happened:

A basketball game was played on a boat.

The 2011 Inaugural Carrier Classic
That's right, a boat. Well, an aircraft carrier to be exact. In honor of Veterans Day, #1 ranked UNC and perennial contenders Michigan State kicked off their season aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, CA.

UNC won easily, but that's beside the point.

The Carl Vinson is no stranger to fame, as it was the carrier that transported Osama Bin-Laden's body for burial. An amazing structure was built on top of the flight deck to hold the 7000 capacity crowd, which included President and First Lady Obama and active-duty military members. Measuring at over 3 football fields long, the ship's deck is so spacious that it was hard to tell the players were even on water.

Following the event's success, games for the next two years are in the schedule works. 2012 will feature a match-up between UConn and possibly Arizona, along with a women's game between Ohio State and Notre Dame. Event coordinator Mike Whalen has said that Michigan State will return in 2013, and that women powerhouses UConn and Stanford might meet.

Yes, in a weekend that was filled turmoil and all that is wrong in college sports today, the Carrier Classic was the counterpoint of all that is right. The game, which paid homage to our military, proved that sports can still provide a bit of magic and inspiration to those who enjoy it most.


So basketball fans, did you catch any of the game? Was it as breathtaking to watch as it was for me? What crazy place do you think they should have a game next? Let me know!

Images provided by i.huffpost. and foxnews.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anything Beats Pulling Tarp....

At the WVU/Louisville game on Saturday, there happened to be two gentlemen behind me who....if I'm being honest....were super annoying. They kept a constant stream of analysis, criticism, and just plain weird conversation going throughout the entire game. But, since I've been in their shoes, I tried to tune it out.

Here's to you, TV time out guy.

Amidst the tuning out, however, I caught a nugget of banter that made me giggle. During a break in play, the men proceeded to point out that the TV "time out" guy might be the easiest job in sports, and perhaps the easiest job ever.

I mean, let's look at the job's qualifications.

  1. Can you stand for multiple minutes at a time?
  2. Can you wear red?
  3. Can you hear?
If you answered yes to the above, you're pretty much good to go.

That got me to thinking...there are some pretty non-taxing, non-skilled jobs in a field that is all about exertion, talent, and physicality. So if you're looking for a new career path that won't require schooling, training, or any sort of intelligence, here are some options for you:

The Sweat-Wiper-Upper

He's the guy who gets to mop up the basketball court when the condensation of blood, sweat and tears gets to be too dangerous for the players. Sure, it may not be very glamorous, and at times may be even gross. But if you can move a mop and follow directions, you're in.

The Number Flipper on the Chain Crew

Like the TV time-out guy, the number flipper is required to stand for lengthy periods of time. Also required? Holding a pole and counting to four.

The Goal Box Watcher and the Penalty Box Attendant

Honestly, both of these are pretty sweet gigs to have if you're into hockey. The Goal Box Watcher gets his own personal seat on the front row, and occasionally he has to flip on a red light (good eyesight is probably a necessity, though).

Meanwhile, the Penalty Box Attendant gets paid to basically babysit grown men for two minutes at a time. Yep, the main function of this job is to make sure penalized players don't leave the box. I wonder if they've ever had to tackle someone to enforce this.

And finally......

The First Base Coach

Let's be real...the first base coach in baseball is little more than a glorified cheerleader/equipment manager. While the 3rd base coach has to make tough decisions that will impact the game outcome, the first base coach gets to dole out high fives, butt slaps, and witty banter.

Sure, they have to take batting helmets, mouth guards, shin guards, and other paraphernalia away from the base runner, but the six figure salary is probably way worth that.

So sports fans....what did you think of the list? Was there anything I missed? Did you, like me, realize you're totally qualified to coach first base in the MLB? Let me know!

Images provided by 4.bp.blogspot, a323.yahoofs, 2.bp.blogspot, cqql, and i.cdn.turner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State Prologue

Before my Friday Fun post tomorrow, I feel I must address the Joe Paterno/Penn State debacle going on right now. Not because I want to, but because a) I feel like you're probably expecting me to and b) I probably should.

I've read a few different op ed pieces on the matter, as well as followed the unending coverage, and I've reached the conclusion that I have no idea how I feel. Do I condemn Joe Pa or do I empathize with his decisions? To be honest, I'm not sure.

What I AM sure of is this, though. The way I see it, there are two victims in this situation. One, and most obvious, are the children that suffered the alleged abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. The second group of victims, however, are the Penn State football players. These men have had nothing to do with the situation. No one took money, no one robbed a liquor store. Yet, pundits want to sentence them for a crime they didn't commit. Some are calling for a forfeiture of the rest of their season; others say that they should do the "right thing" and refuse a bowl bid.

To those individuals I ask....why? What has the team done to deserve punishment? It's as if someone's relative commits murder, and a jury sends the whole family to prison.

As the old adage warns, two wrongs don't make a right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Game of the Centur.......YAWN

The Game of the Century.

At least, that's what the announcers kept touting Saturday night's match-up of #1 LSU against #2 Alabama. It was LSU's old coach vs. LSU's current coach. It was the first time the top two rated teams had matched up in regular season play since 2006, when 11-0 Ohio State took on 11-0 Michigan (Ohio State won 42-39).

 Incidentally, I think that was the last time Michigan was actually good.

With all the hype, this was the game I'd been looking forward to watching for quite some time. I made it home from the WVU debacle just in time to settle on the couch and flip on the TV with most of the first quarter left to play. Exciting thoughts raced through my head.

"Would the Honey Badger strike again?"

"Would Trent Richardson bust through the stingy LSU line?"

"Are all kickers from Australia as awesome as Brad Wing?"

If the game outcome is any indication, then Alabama is probably also asking itself question number 3. Because, after all the hype, the "game of the century" came down to special teams. It was Brad Wing and fellow LSU teammate and kicker Drew Alleman who emerged the victors in the Tigers' 9-6 OT win. Wing had 73 yard punt in the 4th quarter, making it the third longest in school history. Alleman chipped in a 25 footer to win the game. Conversely, Alabama's Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley missed three kicks and had one blocked.

And since I've just spent a paragraph talking about KICKERS, you can guess that the game was...shall we say...not the most prolific offensive display I've ever seen.

After 60 minutes of this gridlock, LSU ended it with the game's 5th field goal.

Three and outs, drives interrupted by interceptions, and grueling, grinding defense was pretty much the rote for 60+ minutes.

Not that we didn't expect that. The SEC is known for its Big Ds. These aren't high-flying west coast offenses. But still, a game without touchdowns is like watching paint dry.

Although, if you were bored by watching two teams just hit each other and trade field position, you probably could have made a drinking game out of the amount of times that Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson uttered any semblance of the phrase, "Well, you never know what he'll do...he's the Mad Hatter" (in reference to LSU head coach Les Miles).

Scenario: LSU is down 6-3. They're getting ready to kick a field goal.

"Well, we think they're going to kick but you never know what the Mad Hatter will do. I mean, he's the Mad Hatter. He's gotta do something crazy, right? The Mad Hatter?"

They kicked.

I honestly think that Miles is so typically bat-shit crazy that people are disappointed when he just plays normal football. And that's what he did on Saturday. In fact, Les himself summed the game up perfectly when he surmised during a post-game show interview, "“What kind of highlights can you even show, 9-to-6?”.

Well, he did trip during the pre-kickoff run out, but that's probably not what they were going for.

No trick plays, no Nick Saban magic, no Trent Richardson sprint to the endzone, no returned interception by the Honey Badger. Just some field goals....both made and missed.

It might have been the game of the century. But frankly, I was a little bored.

So what did you think of the game? Could you stay awake through it all? Were you glad that LSU won? Do you think they'll have a rematch in the Title game? Let me know!

Image provided by zimbio.

Friday, November 4, 2011

All's Fair in Love and Kim Kardashian

Bad news, guys.

Love Hurts.
By now, you've probably heard that Kim Kardashian and her NBA player husband Kris Humphries are divorcing after less than three months of marriage.

It's tragic, I know.
Although...more tragic? That hefty price tag attached to the wedding. Ouch.

There's nothing sadder than a divorced reality tv star. I mean, just look at the Real Housewives. Or Jon and Kate.

The good news is that there are plenty of other rich, athletically-talented fish in the sea. The best thing for Kim to do would be to find herself a new man STAT and get back on that marriage horse.
Don't you agree? Of course you do.

So here are my top five most eligible bachelors, in no particular order:


Pros: Parker is tall, dark, and handsome. He's an NBA player, so Kim wouldn't have to switch to another sport. He clearly prefers petite brunettes at his side. And, as a divorcee himself, Tony wouldn't be scandalized by Kim's troubled past relationships.

Cons: Like Kris Humphries, Parker is kinda out of work at the moment. Also, he's not exactly known for his unwaivering faithfulness and fidelity. Just ask former teammate Brent Barry. Or Barry's wife, Erin.


Pros: Tim Tebow is probably the most pure, wholesome fella in an NFL uniform right now. And, unlike his NBA counterparts, is earning a steady paycheck. His shiny halo might be just the accessory Kim needs in her future spouse.

Cons: Tim Tebow is the most pure, wholesome fella in an NFL uniform. Kardashian, whose past beaus include a sex-tape maker and a stripped-of-Heisman NCAA rule breaker, might get bored with his goody-goody persona.


Pros: Jeter, whose long time relationship with actress Minka Kelly ended this summer, is now once again the most eligible sports bachelor on the market. His winking dimples, five championship rings, and $14.7 million dollar salary confirm this. Furthermore, Jeter is no stranger to Hollywood-esque romances. Besides Kelly, the Yankees shortstop has dated Miss Universe Lara Dutta, Mariah Carey, Jordana Brewster, model Adriana Lima, Vanessa Minillo, Jessica Alba AND Jessica Biel.

Cons: Derek's lengthy serial dating resume leads one to believe that he's not ready to settle down.


Pros: Ok, so I know Kanye is not a pro-athlete, but maybe variety is the spice of life. And if her first marriage to music producer Damon Thomas, or her risque romance with Ray J are any indiciation, Miss K is not opposed to dabbling in the singing industry. Sports, music....it's all entertainment, no? Besides, Kanye has style and loves the fashion of it all. They're practically shopping buddies made in heaven!!!

Cons: It's Kanye, for crying out loud. Insert any Kanye-related joke here.

And finally......


Pros: The third time is the charm.

Cons: Three strikes and you're out.

So what do you think of my matchmaking choices for Kim? Is there anyone on the list you think is her soulmate? Anyone I forgot? Or should I leave the love business to Patty from Millionaire Matchmaker? Let me know!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seeing Red

Can you believe it's the first day of November? I mean, seriously...where has the time gone? In just a few short months, spring training will begin, and the Orioles will be thisclose to being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

2011 World Series Champs

But, lest I get ahead of myself, let's recap what went down in the world of baseball this weekend. In case you didn't know, Thursday night saw an epic game six battle between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals. One strike away from elimination, the Cardinals survived off of David Freese's walk-off home run hit in the 11th to force a game 7.

Fast forward to Friday night. The game 7 that seemed so unlikely 24 hours earlier was primed to be one to remember. And for the St. Louis Cardinals, it will be.

This was the team that was 3 games out of the playoffs with only five games remaining in the regular season. The Cards needed losses by others to just make it in. Once in, they needed to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, who had one of the best pitching rotations in the MLB.

Next up was Milwaukee, who had overcome their own odds to become a formidable opponent. But the Cards took three out of four from the Brewers to move onto the main event.

In the World Series, St. Louis was up against the 2010 runner-ups Texas Rangers. Maybe it was finally Texas's year to win it all. And when the Rangers were up 3 games to 2, and the Cardinals were down to their last out not once but twice, it looked like it would be.

But fate has a funny way of rearing its head. St. Louis won game 7 in a convincing 6-2 manner. Then yesterday, legendary manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement after 33 years in the business. In his 16 years at the Cardinals' helm, La Russa led his team to three World Series and two championships. He retires as the third winningest manager of all time, after John McGraw and Connie Mack. And, as Tony succinctly put it, factors "all just come together to tell you your time is over."

Yes, I'd say that winning the big show is a great way to go out. But with the return of Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Nick Punto, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, and others, I have a feeling that the Cardinals are just beginning to write their own story.

So what did you think of the 2011 World Series? Was game 6 the greatest game ever? Were you happy the Cardinals won? Let me know!!!

Image provided by sports.espn.

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