Thursday, October 19, 2006

The fireworks were awesome

So after getting called out by Tony for about the fifth time, I decided to check back in.

I've been more than a little busy over the past few months with a new project, The Palestra.

Basically, it's a college sports and entertainment network powered by student reporters on campuses across the country. The site that's up right now is "Phase One", which will hopefully give way to "Phase Two" and a theoretically much more user-friendly interface in the coming weeks.

The potential for this project is pretty astronomical, but there are still a lot of potential hurdles to clear, and a lot more 100+ hour work weeks ahead.

I spent last week on the road in the northeast, visiting six schools in four days and covering homecoming weekend at Dartmouth College. We are the only media outlet in the country to actually have video of the Dsrtmouth-Holy Cross fight that happened at the end of the game, although we have only used a little bit of it.

Just to keep Tony from crying himself to sleep so much, I'll try to post something a little more frequently-- maybe some updates on the project, and similar stuff.

Once the new navigation for the site is up, we'll be able to link directly to individual stories, which will make life a hell of a lot easier if I want to recommend something.

It's probably worth your time to check out the stories about Columbia, the Yale Bowl and Dartmouth homecoming that are up right now.

Poke around the site, and let me know what you think.

Friday, May 19, 2006

To do.

The Chicago Sports Review posted a list of 30 things every sports fan should do before they turn 30. (via Deadspin.) Since I'm not that far from 30, I figured I'd see how I stack up.

30 Sports Things To Do Before You Turn 30

1. See the Kentucky Derby. Not yet, although it tends to be something I think about doing every year. Of course I only tend to think about it around post time, and that doesn't leave a lot of time for me to get down there. There's a chance this could happen before I turn 30.

2. Catch a foul ball. I've probably been to 120 major league baseball games, plus a few dozen more games in the minors and have yet to cross this one off the list. I've had a couple close calls, including one where the guy on the other side of a railing grabbed a ball at his feet while I ended up upside down over the railing, legs flailing in the air (all on TV). I've snagged baseballs during batting practice, but never during actual game action. I know this makes Tony 2-for-2, while I'm still an oh-fer.

3. Hole a shot from the fairway. I'm going to give myself partial credit for this one. I chipped one in from the rough (maybe 15-20 yards or so) one time, but have never holed one out from the fairway. I've played exactly one round of golf in the last three years, so that's probably as close as I'm going to come.

4. Attend a NASCAR event. I've been to the Indy 500, although I only saw the warmup laps. The race itself was postponed. I have also watched NHRA drag racing from just behind the safety wall-- I swear to you, the cars are so loud and explosive off the line you can feel your brain vibrating around in your skull. I have not been to a NASCAR event, but I'm giving myself half-credit again.

5. Attend a draft - Preferably the NBA or NFL. There is zero reason why I haven't done this. I grew up less than an hour away from where they hold the NFL draft every year as a huuuuge Giants fan. Just think... I could have been there for incredible moments like the time they spent a first-round pick on Jarrod Bunch! Or Thomas Lewis! Or Tyrone Wheatley! Or Ron Dayne!

6. Hit the trifecta. I spent more time during one layover in the Albuquerque airport than I have at horse tracks in my entire life. I hit the winner of the Kentucky Derby a couple years ago, but that's it.

7. Win a title. Little League baseball town champions, bay-bee! Subsequent glorious triumphs in hockey and baseball make this the first item I can cross off the list completely legitimately.

8-10. Witness three championships in person. Game 1 of the 2000 World Series is one, but I'm going to need a judges' ruling on a couple others. I'm assuming that Big Ten football championships (OSU beating Michigan to clinch the title in 1998, 2002 and 2005) probably don't count. I've been to the Big Ten basketball tournament championship game the last two years as well, but that probably doesn't qualify either.

The question comes in with the 1997 Rose Bowl. OSU won to finish 11-1 and claim a few #1 votes in the final polls, but finished #2 behind Florida. Does this count? Would this count differently if a few more pollsters had voted differently and the Buckeyes had finished #1? Also, if Arizona State won that game and Florida beat FSU in the Sugar Bowl the next night, ASU would have won the title. Would that change the ruling? I'm leaning towards counting it.

The other stuff (including the 1999 NL Wild Card play-in game between the Mets and Reds, the 2006 Fiesta Bowl between OSU and Notre Dame, and Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals last year) probably fall a little short. If the Pistons make the NBA Finals this year, I've been told that I will be there for work. I could finish the third item within a month.

11. Bowl above a 200 (in one game). This is a lot like golf-- I have probably bowled less than 40 games in my life, so I don't count this as a big strike against myself. My high game was something in the 170s, but I'm pretty confident that if I decided that I cared, I could bowl a 200 game within the next six months.

12. Compete in a triathlon. I haven't ever tried it, but it sounds very reasonable that I could do a quarter-mile swim, 10-mile bike ride, and 5k run within the next year if I wanted to. We'll see...

13-15. Witness late game heroics. This is easy. I saw an OSU hockey game where the Buckeyes scored the tying goal with 4.6 seconds left, then won it in overtime. I saw Jose Vizcaino win Game 1 of the 2000 World Series in the 12th inning after Timo Motherfucking Perez failed to run hard on a double to left and got thrown out at the plate. I saw Joe Germaine lead a frantic last-minute drive down the field to come from behind and win the Rose Bowl. I saw Troy Smith lead OSU to two late touchdowns to come back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. I saw Mike Nugent hit a 55-yard field goal at the gun to beat Marshall. Being an OSU football fan, I've seen a lot of overtime games recently-- I saw Dustin Fox tip a field goal to >help OSU beat Purdue in overtime in 2003, I saw >Will Allen stop T.A. McLendon about three inches short of a tying touchdown on fourth down in triple-OT in 2003, I saw Noah Herron score a walkoff TD to give Northwestern their first win over Ohio State in more than 30 years. In basketball, I saw Alondo Tucker beat Iowa with a banked-in 3 at the buzzer in the 2005 Big Ten tournament semifinals in Chicago. I even saw Damian Jackson hit a walkoff single in the 11th inning to beat the Giants in a completely meaningless game last September. Top that tough guy.

16. Other baseball abnormalities. (A no-hitter, an unassisted triple play, or a player hitting for the cycle) No dice, but I'm giving myself something of a pass considering that my favorite team (the Mets-- who have played in about 95% of the games I've seen) has never had a no-hitter thrown in its history. I've never seen a bench-clearing brawl in person, either.

17. Beat Mike Tyson. Not literally, but in video game form. Fuck. Now I've got to dust off my old Nintendo to cross this one off the list. I was thinking that I had done it as a kid, but now I'm more and more convinced that I just watched my friend do it. I probably need to do it again for confirmation.

18. Shoot par at Frisbee golf. I have never played frisbee golf. I don't see any circumstance under which I will play it in the future. Please feel free to suggest something I can replace this with that I might consider doing. (This is the biggest WTF? on this list. Really? Frisbee golf? Can't I just run two triathalons?) I shot in the 30s on an 18-hole mini golf course a couple years ago. I think that's every bit as much an achievement as this. Hell, if you shot below a 22 on that Mini-putt flash game that should count as well.

19. Win an NCAA Tournament pool. I completely fucking own this one. Three wins in the last seven years, not including a tie for the title this year which I lost on the tie-breaker. I've come within a game of winning the ESPN pool as well. This should count twice for me.

20. Correctly predict the Final Four. I'm sure I've done this, but for the life of me can't remember for sure. I think I did it the year UNLV and Duke played in the final (1990) and I'm almost positive I did it in 1993 (the UNC-Michigan "timeout" game). I'm pretty sure I did it again in 2000 or 2001, but don't have my old brackets to be sure. I'm giving myself credit based on the fact that I'm almost positive I've done it, plus bonus points from the last one.

21. Win a fantasy league. I've got this one easily. I won a college and NFL fantasy league last fall alone.

22. Win a Texas Hold 'Em Tournament. No chance. Playing cards is a sin.


Okay... not really... but I've never really gotten so into poker that I would be entering tournaments.

23. Become the best of everyone you know at something. Does "eating chicken wings" count? I don't know... I can rake pretty well on EA College football, but I don't really know many people who get too into that. I guess that means I'm the best. Woo. This question is too ambiguous. If you're the only one of your friends to finish the Century Club or do a 30-second kegstand would that count? If I can hold my breath and swim the width of an Olympic pool does that count?

24. Score a hat trick. Accomplished several times in hockey, both as a kid and as an intramural superstar in college.

25. See one of the great rivalries in person. 10 straight OSU-Michigan games should take care of this one. (The first example they list is Eagles-Cowboys? Really? What about Nets-Sixers? That's pretty hardcore, isn't it?)

26. Gamble on sports in Vegas. Definitely a serious gap on my resume. I keep talking to people about "we should do that someday" and never following up. I have no doubt that I will do this at some point. My next "best chance" comes if Tony ever pulls the trigger and a bachelor party ensues. Otherwise it'll happen on a "what the hell weekend" at some point with friends and the missus. Either way.

27. See a World Cup, or World Cup Qualifier. This one ticks me off. I missed several of them while I was working in the sports media in Columbus. That is to say I could have watched from the field and gotten paid to do so. I wanted to watch one against Mexico a couple years ago, but got stuck covering a Blue Jackets game instead. (Not the worst second prize in the world, but still...) This will definitely happen at some point, since Bruce Arena loves Columbus like no other city in the nation.

28. Visit the various Halls of Fame. I've been to Cooperstown several times and loved it. I've also lived within three hours of each of the other three major sports, but haven't actually gone. I almost talked my wife into stopping at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (in the Hamilton TigerCats' stadium in Hamilton, Ontario between Detroit and Toronto) but she wasn't into it.

29. Spend a weekend celebrating the holiday of college football. Ummm... I think every autumn weekend over the last decade or so would count.

30. See a fight. I covered the Blue Jackets for multiple seasons when Jody Shelley was dressing on a regular basis-- this is definitely crossed off the list. I would like to see a heavyweight championship fight at some point, but this is safe.

That's a total of 15 out of 30 (or really 14 and a couple halves out of 29 because... frisbee golf? Really?) or 16 out of 30 if you count the mini golf thing.

There's a good chance I'll knock out several more and have a chance at finishing 20 or so before I actually turn 30 in late 2008.

How about you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Aaaaaaaaaaannnnndddd... we're back.

Wait... not only did the NHL playoffs start without my knowledge... but the Rangers are already down 3-0? Christ almighty... I wait almost an entire freaking decade for them to get back into the playoffs and they've already got one skate in the grave by the time I realize it?

On the bright side, the Wings are down 2-1 to Edmonton which means every bandwagon douchebag at work will be on suicide watch tomorrow. That can't happen often enough. (UPDATE: Wait... Brian thinks so too?)

My recent bout of hockey ignorance is balanced out by my burgeoning love for the beautiful game. (No, not hot oil wrestling-- although that's good too.) I ended up going to that Premier League soccer match (Fulham 1, Wigan 0) Monday night at Craven Cottage... very cool. The misses even enjoyed it enough to consent to watching the UEFA Champions League semifinal on TV last night (Finished scoreless thanks to saved penalty shot in the final minutes, allowing Arsenal to advance to the championship.)

I was already all wound up about the World Cup, and I'm probably into the Premiership enough that I'll make an effort to find some games on TV from now on. If you're in England at some point during the season, you should definitely check out a match.

Incidentally, I have no idea what the hell you can expect out of me in the near future. The week off left me way behind on some projects, so I may not post stuff for weeks at a time or you might get two posts a day if I'm in the mood to procrastinate. Like now. I'm just writing more so I can put off my other work. These words aren't necessary at all.

Okay, I'll stop.

Right after this sentence.

And this one...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Bonjour.

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Paris: Ugly city.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gone fishin'

I'll be back sometime late next week. Miss me!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sweep dreams.

Michigan not only swept the baseball Buckeyes, they looked goooood doing it.

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(Photo courtesy: Jim Davidson, The OZone.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

And I'm freeeeeeeeeeeee.... free-fallin'...

Anyone who didn't see this humiliating collapse coming hasn't followed the Rangers for long. I'm just surprised it didn't happen a month ago.

Meanwhile, the baseball Buckeyes are one game away from getting swept in Ann Arbor, giving Michigan fans a chance to chant, "Just like football, basketball, women's basketball, hockey, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, women's gymnastics!"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dirty Laundry

An OSU football player was seriously injured at practice on Friday.

A short time later, OSU issued a brief statement saying in part that the player's family wished that he not be identified and that no details of his condition be made public.

Naturally, a few media outlets chose to ignore that.

This is one of the things I hate about the news business.

There's this ingrained mentality that you have to be first. Your readers/ listeners/ viewers need to know every little detail right now or they will see it somewhere else and never come back.

This is partly caused by the fact that pretty much all of the major traditional media outlets are seeing their audiences shrinking (because of the internet and other "new media") and are in something of a panic mode.

It's also caused by the fact that people in the news business deal with tragedies and other difficult situations like this one on a daily basis. After a while, it's only natural that it hardens you and you start losing some of what seems like common decency.

When a helicopter crashed up here a few days ago, killing a small-town police chief and a firefighter, the first question out of people's lips in the newsroom was "who can we talk to?" (Translation: Let's stick a camera in someone's face.)

The thinking goes something like "Sure, it's crappy but if we don't do it, the guys at the other station will and then they'll have the interview with a big 'EXCLUSIVE' banner on it and we'll look like we got beat and then we'll lose more viewers and then we'll lose more advertising revenue and then they'll fire my overpaid ass."

Viewers/readers are somewhat to blame as well-- many people are going to watch the hard-to-watch stuff like people crying about their losses, and in this case many people feel like they need to know the details.

You don't. And if you feel like you do, you're part of the problem, feeding the crazy-eyed monsters inside newsrooms.

Leave the family alone. They'll release the information when they're ready and frankly, they've got more important things to worry about than whether you know as much as you want to.

Incidentally, you can't say you don't like the shitty things media outlets do, and then support them by reading/ watching/ listening to their reports. It's like people who complain that TV stations make it sound like the end of the world when it's going to snow. The only reason they do that is every time they do surveys, people say weather is the #1 reason they watch TV, then they back it up by turning on the TV when there's a hint of snow.

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