Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Soccer, We Are Go!

Customization never hurts, and often times it definitely improves performance. Personally, I am hoping that this is the case with my new power soccer guard. I purchased the adjustable fiberglass guard from the Power Soccer Shop based in Minnesota. However, because I ride a red tilt-and-space Quantum 6000Z at roughly a 30° angle, these guards do not fit my chair. Therefore, because I'm not very technical, I needed help. It is always good to know people who know how to do things that you don't know how to do. The dilemma consisted of crafting a lightweight structure to attach a fiberglass guard to the frame of my wheelchair so that it could withstand the head-to-head collisions that power soccer sometimes involves. Enter Clark Agnew, a family friend as well as skilled carpenter. After exploring the various attachment points and potential hangups for less than an hour, he had a design beginning to develop. Tonight, I got to pick up the final product and have already begun to push my 13 inch black and gold soccer ball around the house, putting my family’s personal property in perhaps substantial danger (just kidding, I really am most of the time an overly cautious driver).

This is the value of personal craftsmanship in that a product that would be marginally useful to me at best is now perfectly adjusted to me. I am not blaming the Power Soccer Shop at all because they do provide high-quality products that satisfy the needs of most of the wheelchair market, and as a business major, I understand that businesses cannot fulfill the individual needs of every person in the potential market. However, having a personal connection in this area made this product that is of a high quality in and of itself, useful for me. I am very grateful that we were able to have a friend who was able to make this game much more solidly accessible to me. Now, I don't worry about how to attach the guard to my chair; all I need to worry about is how to put the ball into that goal beyond the swiftly spinning wheels of the opposing goalie.

On a totally unrelated note, tomorrow is April Fools' Day. While I will not explicitly write about April Fools' Day, you might see it integrated into my blog. Sports Illustrated fans might have some idea where I'm going with this...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Letter to Dee Dee

Dear Dee Dee Jernigan,
I know that many people have surely been criticizing you about two missed layups in the Elite Eight. However, what these people fail to notice is that there were many other missed shots in that game. In fact, your team as a whole missed a total of 37 shots throughout the game. I realize that some people will say that I cannot assume that shot made earlier in the game would affect the final outcome in the same way that these late game layups would have, and they might be right. However, another shot made earlier in the game by Xavier would have only shifted the momentum toward the Musketeers. Again, as my history professor would say, this is counterfactual speculation, but it seems that people are much too quick to assign the blame directly on you simply because you are a convenient target as the last one to miss one of the 37 shots. Also, assuming you made the shot, there was still the full court drive by Stanford that ended up breaking the tie and advancing the Cardinal. Again, assuming that the game might have gone to overtime, who knows what would have happened? You would have no more won the game for Xavier then many people are claiming you lost it. Winning and losing is a team effort; no one player can be absolutely held responsible. As difficult as it may be, ignore those people who are needlessly and groundlessly heaping this loss on your shoulders. Without all of the shots you made throughout the season, this Elite Eight berth may not have even been.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Connections From Barre to Philly

As baseball season is coming near, I am reminded of a story that ties together two things that are very important to me. I very well might be the only one of you who has been into Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. If any of you have, you will recall that while you were walking laps around the stadium waiting for the gates to open you saw three statues of some of the greatest Phillies and some of the greatest professional baseball players of all time. The likenesses of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, and, once you enter the stadium, Richie Ashburn tower ten feet overhead cast in bronze on top of red granite bases. You can find images of these statues online, but you won't find out who made those bases anywhere online. Good thing I am here to tell you. A little known fact apparently is that those bases were quarried right here in Barre, Vermont at Rock of Ages. How do I know this if it is no online? While these statue bases were being produced, we had a friend who worked at the quarries at this time and invited us to come see this future piece of Phillies' history before it got shipped to link up with the statues and be stationed outside the ballpark. Who would have thought that a city that is seemingly divided between Red Sox Nation and Yankee Land could be involved with a team that resides in the flatlands? I guess that these fans might have realized who they should have been rooting for all this time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chaos Reigns

AAU season has officially hit my household. We put in an opening weekend in Lamoille, and I was reminded about the insanity it can bring. I must admit that this is the only time this year that I had to actually not watch a basketball game that I had the opportunity to watch in order to get my homework done. If you had the choice, would you read about microeconomics or watch a basketball game? The only votes for yes may potentially be my two Econ professors, Prof. Gibson and Prof. Sicotte. Let me run this one by you; it seems as if my everyday insanity full of blogging and schooling gets turned up a notch when you add on top of that waking up at early hours, rushing around trying to grab a bite to eat for lunch while simultaneously attempting to be one hour early for a game that starts in one hour. Believe me, it is pure chaos! However, I thrive on chaos. If I have too much free time, I tend to waste it. In times that I only have two hours to do a whole night's worth of homework; I manage to have it all done simply because I know that it needs to get done. In times of necessity, the seemingly impossible is much easier to achieve simply because we all seem to have some tendency in our personalities that help us want to meet deadlines. We like other people to arrive promptly or complete a task when we ask them to; therefore, we know that others expect that of us as well. So, I got all of my homework done in record time this weekend because of the chaos that has ensued from AAU basketball. It's kind of weird I know, but it works for me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Wow, Butler has pulled it off and made it into the Final Four! Who would have thought that Syracuse and Kansas State would topple at the hands of Butler? I guess a lot of people probably did, but after watching Syracuse a few times throughout the year, I had thought that they had a pretty easy path to at least the Elite Eight. Well, I was right there, but my next prediction about them making it to the Final Four was obviously wrong. Butler has been to the NCAA tournament quite a few times in recent years, but why is it that many teams who are so-called "mid-majors" do not get the recognition that they are proving they deserve

Well, one obvious reason is media coverage. This area is improving due to efforts such as ESPNU and other networks that focus on college sports. Because there are so many NCAA teams and only so much network time on ESPN and ESPN2 for college sports throughout the season, the few games that are broadcast often feature Duke, UNC, Kansas, or any other university that has become all but a perennial powerhouse. While Butler has been very successful, they have yet to develop that national image that will secure them a spot on the major networks. Because of this, many average sports fans will overlook the mid-major. Even I underestimated Butler; I knew they were good, but I never thought they could topple the Orangemen.

Another reason that Butler could be seen as a surprise by people such as myself is because of geography. Syracuse is much closer than Butler; Boston College plays in the ACC, so teams such as Duke and North Carolina come closer to home. When the local teams are covered as they should be, that leaves limited time for teams from faraway lands such as Indiana. Those flat states often times get forgotten in Vermont simply because we like to think that the more local teams that we have watched all season.

However, none of this constitutes a viable excuse for my neglecting Butler. I guess I need to be more aware next season in order to make a bracket that doesn't end up being covered in red ink.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fiction Friday #3

It seems as if some mornings come far too soon while others seem to be an entirely different century than the night before. This morning was like the latter; I felt as if the job confirmation or rejection was taking far too long. Practically, while the hours might have been long, I realized that my fear was irrational because many of those hours were overnight. However, that did not change the fact that I wanted a response now.

As I got ready for the day, I took extra care to make sure to make sure I looked presentable. When the call came, I wanted to feel good as well as look good. Practically again, I realized that the people on the phone would not see me, but I still felt the need to look slightly better than the usual. Pulling out my pale blue oxford and a conservative royal blue tie, I guess I was thinking that if I was going to tell my old boss that I was leaving for a better job in a bigger company, I wanted to look worthy of my new office.

No time for breakfast; I never really had an appetite in the morning. I hopped into my somewhat beat up Nissan Cube. I know, since I said I was one of the fastest rising executives in Creative Marketing Solutions, I bet you were thinking I would be driving a Porsche 911 or some other high end sports car. Well, in title, I was an executive, but if I recall my Civil War knowledge, I could call myself a brevet executive. I had been promoted to approximately an executive position, but I was told that the pay raise would be coming depending on my performance. Anyway, for now I was driving my Cube to the metro station, about 5 miles down the road from my apartment, in Owings Mills.

After the 20 minute subway ride, I got off at Shot Tower/Marketplace and headed to the office. I have been in offices where nobody ever talks and all they do is work. However, this was by no means our office. While we weren't as loose as Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company, the fact that we ran a marketing firm allowed us to have more creative collaboration and sharing than perhaps an accounting firm would. While this should be an ideal working environment, I felt like I needed more. Yes, we had a big business within the city of Baltimore, but that was it. I wanted more; I wanted to discover more challenges and experience greater success

However, all of that sat on a phone call that I was anxiously waiting for. As I booted up my Dell Studio laptop, I had the feeling that this day would be one of the longest days of my life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Money or Happiness?

I don't want to write about sports tonight. I know, this will probably be disappointing to many of you. However, I was sitting at the Honors College plenary lecture tonight where Matt Crawford was discussing his ideas concerning what is intellectual work. When Crawford worked as an abstract writer of scholarly articles, he claims to have felt very anti-intellectual because the work did not require much thought. He would skim the articles and then write a brief summary that was not necessarily representative of the piece. However, when Crawford dropped this job to become a motorcycle repairman, he said that even though the job of a mechanic is often seen as somewhat "simple," he found that it was much more satisfying and mentally stimulating than the supposedly intellectual job of reviewing scholarly articles. This got me thinking about my future career. What exactly is a job supposed to be in a person's life? If a job is just about making money, then I would perhaps become a plumber or electrician. Due to the fact that they would not have college expenses and loans along with the fact that master electricians and plumbers make quite a bit of money, it would make sense for me to become a plumber. However, would I be happy doing this? No, not really. Therefore, should my career only bring me happiness? If that were the case, I could make my career sitting at home and playing fantasy baseball. It is an activity I enjoy, so it would make a good career careers were all about happiness. Obviously, you realize that this is ludicrous because people simply need to make some money to survive. Okay, so if money and happiness cannot fully determine what career you should choose, how on earth should one decide? Personally, I think the enjoyment should take precedence over pay if you're only responsible for yourself. If I want to take a job that pays next to no money, I should do that if it only affects me. However, if I have a family, one sacrifice that I might have to make to make my family comfortable would be to take a job that will allow me to provide for more than one person. Each individual should be able to pursue his or her own passions, but I think that when other people are affected by your choices, these effects need to take just as much if not more precedence over your own. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm not consistent with the modern theory of "if it feels good, do it," but I think that you can pursue your own passions as long as they only affect your life directly. However, when you add the responsibility of providing for other people, one of the sacrifices that may need to be made would be overall love for work in return for overall love for family. I would hope that being able to make the ones you love comfortable would generate enough happiness to offset the happiness you might have to sacrifice if indeed finances demand it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One More Go

Well, I thought it would never end. I have finally come to my last fantasy baseball draft for the year. Tonight, I get to match up with my fellow bloggers from around the country in the Battle of the Blogs. I thought that today I would put my reputation on the line and set my rosters here for all of you to see and hopefully think, "This guy knows how to pick a team!" No, I am just kidding; I am by no means a genius by my own measure. However, I seriously want your opinions about who I should dump and who was the absolute best pick I made. So, without further ado:

League: In the Big Inning God Created (10 teams)
Team Name: TCWT

Catcher: Brian McCann
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base: Rickie Weeks
Third Base: Mark Reynolds
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
Outfielders: Ryan Braun, Bobby Abreu, and Andrew McCutchen
Utility: Jimmy Rollins
Starting Pitchers: Chris Carpenter and Jon Lester
Relief Pitchers: Carlos Marmol and Brian Fuentes
Bench: Outfielder Alfonso Soriano, First Baseman David Ortiz, Outfielder Alex Rios, Utilityman Jorge Cantu, and Starting Pitcher Clayton Kershaw
Awesome? Not so awesome? Let me know!

The Family Fun League (ironically, not even my family; 15 teams)
Team: Ducks

Catcher: Jorge Posada
First Base: Prince Fielder
Second Base: Ian Kinsler
Third Base: Evan Longoria
Shortstop: Yunel Escobar
Outfielders: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Cody Ross
Designated Hitter: Garrett Jones
Pitchers: David Aardsma, Scott Baker, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wandy Rodriguez
Bench: Catcher Jason Varitek, Utilityman Casey McGehee, Outfielder Chris Young, Pitcher Joakim Soria, and Pitcher Ben Sheets

I think it is going to be a good year for my boys. I hope I haven't tipped my hand to my draft mates tonight, but I think that you will notice that there is only one overlapping player. Let's hope that one more draft goes well and helps me pursue a Triple Crown!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lady Cats Prowl

Before I start on anything else, I just want to say that no one listens to me. Of the two fantasy drafts I have been a part of this year, Joe Mauer has been picked second overall (ahead of Albert Pujols even) and eighth overall. Again, you know I love Joe, but there is no way I would take him over a guy like Albert.

Okay, thank you for letting me vent. Now, on to the real story as the UVM women are ready to take it to Notre Dame. Following their first-ever NCAA tournament win, they're looking to be more successful than the UVM men were when they knocked off Syracuse a few years ago for their first-ever NCAA tournament win before getting killed by Michigan State. I believe that UVM will be able to fight with the Irish simply because so far they're hitting their shots. As I said about the UVM men, if they hit their shots, they will be able to play with anyone. Upsets occur because the upper seed can't hit a shot and therefore are very vulnerable. It really does not matter how well you played the rest of the year; if that were the case, we would crown the Connecticut Huskies champions already and not bother wasting our time with a meaningless tournament. However, the joy of a single elimination tournament is that you only need to win once. This may seem a bit redundant, but any team can be unlucky on just one night. So, enjoy the night, cheer for the Catamounts, and hope that UVM will be able to secure Groovy UV its first Sweet 16 appearance!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nice Guys Finish Last

The Twins may believe that Joe Mauer would be worth $184,000,000 over eight years, and if I was in their shoes, I probably would spend the money too. After all, even though Joe Mauer will be one of the highest-paid ballplayers in history at the age of 26, due to the incredible position scarcity as well as the fact that he hit .365 last year and has never hit below .293 make him the type of player that every organization would love to have behind the plate. Also, on top of that Mauer is a back to back Gold Glove winner, and, according to Baseball Reference, his stats echo those of Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and Tony Lazzeri at similar points during their careers. All of these aforementioned players, you baseball historians might note, were Hall of Famers. Granted, Mauer needs to keep up his numbers to make the Hall, but when your name is mentioned with any Hall of Famers, you don't complain. Also, if this would not be enough for any team to love him, you may recall that ESPN the Magazine article a few months ago where the author had attempted to gather autographs from all the major sports and only Joe Mauer replied with a handwritten personal note. Oh man, don't you hate it when a ballplayer seems to be a great person as well as a great ballplayer?

I think I have sufficiently explained why Joe Mauer would make my real-life ultimate dream team and why he is one of my favorite players. However, I think that everyone, myself included, need to properly value Mauer as we draft our fantasy team. Last year, he hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs. By far, he was the best catcher in baseball. However, while a catcher is important, most of the time the catcher only contributes a small amount of the team's fantasy points anyway. Therefore, don't pass over guys like Prince Fielder, who hit .299 with 46 home runs and 141 RBIs, or Ryan Braun, who had 32 home runs and 20 stolen bases while batting .320 and driving in 114 runs. While there are fewer great offensive players behind the plate than there are at first base or in the outfield, fantasy baseball is driven by offense and the maximum possible output. Fielding and leadership, which I think are very valuable in a real-life player, do not matter in fantasy sports because really, how would you quantify them? Therefore, when you're drafting your fantasy team in the upcoming days, remember that if all you do is draft the nice guys without regard for their stats, you very well might finish in last.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bad Streak

Wow, my bracket is essentially dead. With the fall of Kansas, my national champion is gone. With the fall of Georgetown, one of my Elite 8 teams is out. UTEP, one of my favorite upset teams, never pulled off the upset I hoped for. Washington has survived two more games than I thought they would. Villanova choked by almost falling in the first round before being knocked out by St. Mary's in the second. It is kind of pathetic that I have only nine of the Sweet 16 correct. However, I guess you can't pick them right all of the time, but I admit that I would have rather picked them right more often than I have. So ends another fantasy game that I had any hope of winning even though the tournament is far from over. I will continue obviously to enjoy the tournament, but I will not have a chance of winning this fantasy game. Now, we move on to fantasy baseball where I fully intend to do much better! However, this also will entail a vast amount of luck on top of some expertise. There's not much you can do when you draft that can't miss starting pitcher only to discover that in his final spring training start he tore his rotator cuff and will be done for the year. In a season of 162 games, there is so much that can go wrong; it seems about as random as real life. Every so often we have those breakout moments where we can't miss and we feel like we have improved greatly. To contrast this, we all have those moments where we need to break this slump and get rid of the bad luck. See, I bet you never thought that fantasy baseball might be applicable to everyday life!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Comes a Day Late

I would like to tell you that I did not post a fiction story yesterday because I wanted to make it so excellent that I simply ran out of time. However, I would also like to tell you the truth; I totally forgot. Therefore, happy belated Fiction Friday!

The huge cyclone of activities that constituted my life for the past few weeks swung me into the San Francisco International Airport in the midst of a hazy early September afternoon. Everything was spinning at 100 miles an hour and threatened to throw me off if I let go at any point. After the interview, which frighteningly focused on my many shortcomings, I had returned home to the apartment I was renting above the garage of a very friendly retired couple. No sooner had I opened my door than my cell phone began to vibrate in my overcoat pocket. I quickly pulled out and answered. I had some sense of false hope that my interview had been so stunning and flawless that even within the time of my approximately 6 hour flight back to BWI they had decided that I was the best candidate out of the pool. However, reality hit when it was only my friend Mike asking if I was home yet. It's always good to talk to friends, but there are those times when you would rather make sure that your phone line is open. Therefore, I quickly invited him over to my place to ensure that if this call from San Francisco came in, I would be ready and readily available.

When Mike came over, we did what we always did; we watched the Orioles. We were aware that they had not been any good for a while, but when you grew up around Baltimore in the 90s, there is no way you could not be a Cal Ripken fan and therefore an Orioles fan. Since this was the end of August, we both knew that this game wouldn't change much; it is hard to make up a 15 game deficit when you only have four games left. Nevertheless, being superstitious baseball fans, we had to watch the Orioles on the same beat-up brown leather couch, pop and consume the same amount of Orville Redenbacher's between the third and seventh innings on the second Thursday of every month if the Orioles were going to have any prayer of toppling the Oakland Athletics that night.

I must admit that I had a hard time enjoying the game realizing that a call could come at any time despite the fact that it was late in the evening. Mike tried to loosen me up, but quite frankly I refused to release my tension. If you're not tightly wound, small details will slip by. The down side to being tightly wound is the fact that often times you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If every moment seems to be a defining moment, you're bound to be let down at some time. That night was one of those nights; no call came, and I went to bed wondering if that interview committee of five people would make up their minds about what it seemed to me to be all I wanted in a career.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Hopefully, I am watching the first time a 16 seed will beat a one seed in NCAA history. All right, I may be dreaming about this, but imagine the pandemonium that would ensue in Burlington. The only two NCAA tournament victories and University of Vermont history would be against the dreaded Orange. However, as it stands right now, we are somewhat behind due to ice cold shooting. The only way Vermont, or any other 16 seed, will ever pull off the ultimate upset is if they're able to shoot well and consistently throughout the entire game. Lehigh played with Kansas last night simply because they were able to shoot for the first 30 minutes of the game. Of course, as the final score shows, they totally fell apart over the last 10 minutes and lost by 20, but they still showed that low seeds can be dangerous when they are hot. So, I don't really know how Mike Lonergan is going to remedy this right now. However, he needs his boys to start hitting their shots because UVM quite simply does not have the size to get any second chances against a very long Syracuse team. However, I am not going to say that this game is a lost cause; you never know what might happen in 23 minutes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Would I Write About Climate Change on a Sports Blog?

In society today, climate change has become a buzz phrase. While typically applied to environmental climate change (a.k.a. global warming, even though ironically enough some areas will become colder as a result of global warming), it would be impossible not to mention the climate change that is devouring the NCAA tournament right now. As I'm writing this at 10:09 PM, there have been six upsets and six "predictable" outcomes. To compare, in the 32 games last year, there were 10 upsets. We are on pace to have six more upsets than they had last year. For crying out loud, right now I am watching Lehigh up 12-4 on overall number one Kansas with 14 minutes left in the first half (note: Kansas has since made a run and is in the lead). I realize that there is a ton of time left and Kansas will probably come back to win, but what is happening to the high seeds? Honestly, I think the change is that prospects are electing to go to mid-majors where they now they will be the star and see significant playing time right from the beginning. Why go to Duke and get buried on the bench when you can go to University of Ohio and be a star with much more playing time? Think about Stephen Curry who went to Davidson, a classic mid-major in the Southern Conference, became the leading scorer in NCAA, led his team on a deep run into the NCAA tournament for which he was largely credited, and all of the sudden became the number seven pick in the 2009 NBA draft. If he would have gone to a classic power school even though he had immense talent, any success would not have helped build his legend because there would have been several other great players who would have been attributed some of the credit. Obviously, not every player is Stephen Curry, but I do believe that mid-majors are on the rise due to the success of programs such as Davidson and George Mason that show prospects that mid-majors are not necessarily a step down; they be a step to amazing fame and legendary status.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tournament Benefit

I hope that everybody has filled out the NCAA tournament bracket. For me, I bet you that Kansas and Duke will be on top at the end with the Jayhawks reigning triumphant. However, this tournament will be about more than just one game. Think about this fact; according to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, more than $3,000,000,000 will be bet over the course of the tournament. The city of Buffalo, who incidentally happens to be hosting the first 16 seed who will upset a number one seed, is estimating to take in an extra $5,000,000 in revenue just from the first two rounds of games in the East region. Obviously, the economic impact of this is amazing. The NCAA will most likely make $750,000,000 off of its broadcasting deal with CBS during the final year of its contract which occurs in three years. It's crazy how much sports influence the economy. Studies also show that only the World Cup knocks down productivity as much as the NCAA tournament. The World Cup involves the whole world and therefore hurts other countries besides the United States whereas I would assume that March Madness mostly Americans because it involves all American teams. Again, imagine what people would do with all the extra time. Honestly, I would probably still "waste" it, but many people could be positively influencing the economic development of America. Does this sound familiar? That would be the non-sports fan attacking. The informed sports fan would reply that because the NCAA tournament brings people happiness. According to the president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, says that one of the three main components to human, and more specifically worker, happiness is "the ability to savor life's pleasures." Basketball happens to be one activity that brings pleasure to many people. Therefore, by savoring this pleasure, workers will be happier. Happier workers are more productive workers according to Gallup. Therefore, we can deduce that because the NCAA tournament raises happiness for some workers and happiness increases productivity, the NCAA tournament indeed increases worker productivity. Does it sound like a stretch? To me, no. Maybe it does to you. However, even if you hate the NCAA tournament, it is happening now, and people like me are going to enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

True Power

Today, I had a very interesting discussion that got me thinking about the perceived power of social media and whether or not it really deserves all the media attention it gets. According to an article I read about Facebook, on December 1, 2009, Facebook had 350,000,000 users. That is approximately 5% of the world with or without computers taking the estimate that the world has 7,000,000,000 people for ease of calculation. However, there were only, according to the Computer Industry Almanac, about 1.6 billion Internet users in the world in 2008. This means that Facebook attracted approximately 22% of Internet users. If this chunk is not large enough for you, take into account that in July of 2009, China, the world's largest Internet user, banned its 235,000,000 Internet users from accessing Facebook. That means that these 235,000,000 could not be included in the count of Internet users who use Facebook simply because they are forbidden by the government. Therefore, of the Internet users who are able to access Facebook, just about 26% of them do. Think about it; one social media site is able to attract over one quarter of the Internet using public. This is immense power; being able to market to 350,000,000 people possibly simultaneously is amazing. If you posted your product on enough fan pages and group pages, it would definitely be possible to appeal to almost all of these users all for free.

I definitely realize that posting on thousands or possibly millions of group pages would be an incredible waste of time because not every product would appeal to each market segment that each group represents. Nevertheless, I find it amazing that it would be so easy to appeal to so many people for free. I have seen Facebook utilized in so many different ways to publicize various types of events and news stories. For my readers in Vermont, do you remember Pete the Moose? An animal's life is worth 2910 fans. Imagine what could happen to anything that is able to find a few media outlets to publicize their Facebook page like the Moose did.

I realize that I have not written about sports at all today, and I am sorry about that. However, I just wanted to alert all of you to the immense power that social media has, Facebook in particular as it is the largest social media site on the Internet. So, I guess the application to sports is that if you have a team or an event, such as an AAU tournament, that you're trying to publicize, you can use traditional mediums such as the newspaper, but don't forget about the impact social media can have. How many newspapers do you know that have a circulation of 350,000,000 potential customers?

Image Courtesy Of:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sports History 101

How important is the NCAA tournament in America? Well, it is at least important enough to gain the attention of both the President and the voting public. What does this say about the popularity? I guess it speaks for itself; sports are incredibly important in American life. However, how did athletics become so prevalent in American culture? If I am recalling somewhat hazy memories from AP US History, sports as popular culture began in the 1920s. With the rise of stars such as Babe Ruth and increased leisure time due to more productivity, Americans wanted enjoyable pastimes. From there, sporting events continued to rise as the NFL was established in 1922, and the NBA was established in 1949 (although basketball has been around much longer than this). With all of the athletic options available, more and more people became involved. You didn't just need to play baseball; new sports were being introduced that better suited different skill sets. Because of this, sports continued to grow and multiply until they reached the point where we are today.

This is definitely a brief overview of the history of American sports, but I hope it shows how sports have become such a large part of American culture. Granted, I am no fortuneteller, but I feel like sports will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Even people who traditionally would not be able to play competitive sports, like myself, can get into the game and enjoy games like power soccer. Even countries are beginning to use sports as a method of rebuilding (see my article on Sri Lanka). So, I want you to remember that as much as you may try to avoid sports, you will never be able to in a culture that is as sports oriented as America is.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time to Turn It on!

Well UVM, it's time to pull off another upset versus the Orangemen. Personally, I think the Cats deserved a higher seed than that seeing how they were able to knock off Rutgers from the Big East on the road as well as almost beating Cornell, the Ivy League champions in Drexel, and by knocking off Buffalo in Buffalo who were able to knock off Ohio University who are also in the tournament at a higher seed than Vermont.

The Catamounts will need to rekindle the magic of Taylor Coppenrath and TJ Sorrentine to march over Syracuse again. This time, though, it will be even tougher because a game in Buffalo is basically a home game for Syracuse as Buffalo is only just over 2 1/2 hours from Syracuse according to MapQuest. For college students, a 2 1/2 hour drive is nothing; some high school fans even travel that far. UVM on the other hand is just about 7 1/2 hours away from Buffalo; that's a much harder drive to make. All I know is I don't like this draw for UVM; they were so much better than a 16 seed who drew just about the worst possible matchup they could have. However, there has never been a 16 seed to upset a 1 seed... until 2010.

Bracket Time

Tonight, I hope that you are all tuned in at six to CBS to watch the NCAA Selection Show. For those of us in Vermont, we can breathe easy knowing that our boys have an automatic bid after taking down Boston University with a strong showing yesterday. However, there are many other teams who are not quite as comfortable on campus tonight. I assume that it would be easier knowing that you absolutely had no hope of getting in then it would be to sit in the locker room while most likely a camera from CBS would be watching you nervously stare at the TV anchored on your wall waiting for your name. You would hope that this camera will catch you and your team wildly celebrating while we can almost hear the student body roar with the excitement that can only be unleashed when miracles often. Odds are, we will see teams from Florida, Wake Forest, Illinois, or Mississippi State nervously gazing at the TV while undoubtedly at least one player will attempt to break the tension with some form of antics. However, even if there is a player who can make a joke in such a high stress environment, I would bet that he would not be appreciated. These highly competitive players have played all year to make The Big Dance; they do not want to be left out now. I better post this now so that it will be before a majority of the field is released!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Me, the Athlete?

Well, since yesterday was all business, today is all sports. However, for once, instead of telling you about a sport I had watched; today I'm going to tell you about a sport I played.

I first met Patrick Standen, the founder of the NDAA, just under a year ago while I was writing an article for The Bridge regarding individuals with disabilities who had been particularly successful in the workplace (the link to this article is on the right-hand side of this blog). This year, I ran into Patrick again at UVM, and he told me about a sport that I had never heard of: power soccer. The game sounded simple enough; you use a guard attached around your feet to ram the ball into the goal. Even though the team has been around for a little while, due to conflicts, today was the first time that I could actually attend a practice. Any of you out there in wheelchairs should really get out there and play this! Many of you have known me for a while, so you will remember that I like to play hockey with a very short stick. Therefore, I was somewhat used to pushing a ball around in front of my wheelchair. Nevertheless, this was much different simply because when I played hockey, I used a curved stick. The guards are flat, so it is much more difficult to turn the ball left and right. Also, it is hard to do what is called a spin shot where you turn your chair as fast as possible to the left or right to hammer the ball when you can't get a running start. However, I have a slower turn speed because I would hate to spin around and wipe out the average pedestrian. Therefore, I think that a visit to my wheelchair mechanic in order to pump up the turn speed as well as my reverse speed.

So, any power wheelchair users who live in this area need to come out for this. I will keep you posted on how this goes and if perhaps I will get any good. Here is a video of how good some power soccer players can become (no offense, guys, but we are not this good... yet).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fiction Friday!

Welcome to Fiction Friday! I have decided to turn every Friday into a short story still related to sports, business, or both, but it will have a definitely different feel to it. So, let me know if you like this, hate this, or just don't like any of my writing in general. Here it is.

Sure, we've all been there. We've all had that moment that we felt would determine our entire future. This was one of those times for me. The off-white walls that surrounded me seemed to contain everything I had worked for up until this point. That cherry boardroom table surrounded by the five individuals who seemingly held my fate along with the fate of every other job applicant intimidated me. The intimidation came not from the fact of sheer size; I was intimidated by being on one side of the table while all my career goals were on the other side.

I stood awkwardly in my admittedly underused black tailored suit in front of a committee of five of the most powerful people in the business world. They really didn't care that I had been one of the fastest rising young executives at Creative Marketing Solutions. They really didn't care that I graduated with high honors from the Harvard Business School and was told by my professors that I was one of the most promising graduates they had seen in their whole tenure. These five people in their $2000 Armani suits wanted to know what I could bring to Jackson International, one of the biggest marketing firms in the world. With offices in all major cities, this potential position as assistant to the Director of Marketing in the San Francisco office had a very significant opportunity for advancement. Success in this office would almost certainly lead anywhere that I wanted. I could go from Hong Kong to Helsinki, from Rome to Rio.

But all of these thoughts did not mean much because thoughts are just that until they're acted upon. The future was about to be acted upon.

"Mr. Jones, we would like to thank you for flying across the country to attend this interview. I hope that this time will be worthwhile for all of us," began a middle-aged lady with short dark hair and square framed glasses. I settled in to the large leather chair on wheels and waited patiently for the barrage of questions that I knew were coming.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lack of Efficiency

Okay, it's honesty time. You don't need to tell me obviously, but think about it. How many times have you logged on to some media outlet during the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament when you should have been working? Last year, I wasted quite a bit of time following the NCAA tournament when I could have been effectively using study hall in the library. However, we all know that libraries aren't meant to study; obviously, libraries were meant to provide computers to follow basketball games. Well, myself and I bet many of you, are not alone in succumbing to the temptation of midday basketball. According to a new study I read about in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the first week of the NCAA tournament could possibly cost employers $1.8 billion. Obviously, this is a significant chunk of money that employers are losing out on because of a leisure activity. One factor that I didn't realize was that when you watch the games on the CBS webcast, they have a "Boss Button" that pops up a fake spreadsheet that would supposedly hide your activities from your boss. While this is meant to make fun of the trend of employees, it is a sad commentary that this button was hit almost 2.8 million times last year.

Some companies are taking steps to combat this loss of productivity. They install "big brother" type software would then allow them to track all employee Internet activity. My question would be: how expensive is this monitoring service? If employers on the whole spend more than $1.8 billion on this service just for one week, obviously it would not be worth it. Therefore, I do not think that this service is really worth it. I do not think that the money that this would save would be worth it. The added staff morale would lead to higher future productivity which I would assume would generate more revenue than the original one week period. Also, I think about some of the best employers to work for who offer employees everything from gym memberships to haircuts according to Fortune. Why would they be offering all of these incentives if employees were not better off by doing them? Allowing employees to waste a few hours out of the entire year apparently would perhaps increase worker productivity and therefore make the NCAA tournament a blessing rather than a waste of time and money.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

I will assume that most of you have seen this semi-new Disney movie, The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid. For those of you who have not, the Cliff's Notes version involves a former major-league baseball prospect who blew out his arm but eventually made the Major Leagues through a challenge from his high school baseball team. As shown by this move, many athletes have a hard time letting go of the game they love. Take for example Michael Jordan who retired twice before he finally decided he was over the hill (although he was still a good player at his time of retirement, but he was a shadow of its former self). More recently, look at the revolving door that Brett Favre has probably broken entering and exiting the press room after announcing his retirement and subsequent return to the NFL. However, many athletes do realize when enough is enough, and they want to move on with their lives. Some athletes are forced out of the league because nobody wants them (think of recently Nomar Garciaparra who just retired after several subpar seasons), and I admire those athletes who recognize that they need to find something else to do with their lives.

When these athletes don't realize that perhaps they better move on, I at least feel that it is no more than a publicity stunt. In the past two days, I have seen two stories that make wonderful business sense for the organization, but I wish that the players would realize what a move like this will probably do for their reputation. First, there is the return of Antoine Walker to professional basketball. You remember him right? Paul Pierce's trusty sidekick who would lead Boston to a championship? Yeah, none of that happened. Walker was shopped around for a while before being nailed with a DUI and put on trial for writing bad checks to casinos. Well, one team was willing to take a risk on Antoine, one team in Puerto Rico that is. While I like the business move by the team, I have to wonder what this will do to this already disgraced former star. He will be a star in Puerto Rico simply because he used to be a star in the NBA and that will sell tickets which is the ultimate goal of the basketball team. However, if I was Antoine, I would have moved on from this chapter of my life and instead focused on dealing with the $4,000,000 of debt I had accrued.

The next story I found highlighted the signing of Marion Jones in the WNBA. Jones won five Olympic medals in the 2000 Summer Games, but they were all stripped when she admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. On top of this, she lied about this use and ended up with six months in jail. Now, she is 34 years old; this is normally beyond the prime of most athletes, and she is trying to pick up a sport that she hasn't played competitively since college. Just like anything in life, you might be good at something at one time, but without practice for approximately 10 years you'll probably get much worse. Again, this is a great publicity move because people buy tickets to see Jones try to make a comeback. However, I think that perhaps she should close the door on the athletic portion of her career and move onto a field where the stigma would not be attached to her.

In thinking about why businesses would want to bring stars with troubled pasts into their marketing fold, I believe that this quote sums it up much better than I could. “She’s [Jones] clearly a global figure, who people are interested in,” Orender said. “Having somebody like that associated with our league is positive.” This just reinforces the idea that no publicity is bad publicity.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Extra, Extra!

Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior in Florida

There are several ways that athletes influence the economy. Obviously, many people spend their money to attend sporting events or buy sporting merchandise to show their pride in a certain team. However, an article in the Vancouver Sun made me think about the way in which athletes influence our grocery bill. I bet you're thinking about products like Gatorade, which I have mentioned in previous posts, or Wheaties, The Breakfast of Champions. However, I am avoiding these today. The part of your grocery bill that I am referring to is that one part that you are almost ashamed to buy. No, not the dessert that will totally ruin your weight loss plan. This shameful item is the tabloid. These magazines that litter checkout lines seem to appeal to Americans like the most. We like the idea that there is always somebody who is worse than we are. We see these athletes as almost superhuman; therefore, it is someone comforting, in a twisted sort of way, to realize that these athletes have faults. Their issues might be different than ours; many of us are not as physically healthy as athletes, but it is strangely comforting to many people to realize that athletes are not perfect either. Hence, we have a situation where the tabloid business is bound to be a significant player. It is not enough to say that Tiger Woods had an affair; there needs to be about 1000 "exclusive" interview with the alleged mistress. Nevertheless, people want to hear this story they can't hear anywhere else even if their claim of exclusive content is entirely false. What the issue essentially comes down to is that if you can package false information in a seemingly true box, many people believe it as the absolute truth. This is especially true for the athlete because people want to see the athletes fall to our level of humanity. When people are better than us in one area, such as physical talent, many people tend to want to undercut some other aspect of that person to humanize them. Humans identify with other humans, so realizing that we all have faults, which are often I believe wrongly disseminated by the tabloid media as it is not their place to tell, allows many people identify with the very same people that they turned into idols in the first place.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Most Valuable Class

This goes out to all of the doubters who say that sports a detrimental to a student because they occupy time that could be spent studying. According to a new study, girls who play high school team sports are 20% more likely to graduate and are 20% more likely to continue on to college. Why might this be so? One huge reason is that being a member of the team implies that each individual team member is able to and does put forth their best effort to help the team win. Girls in this study, although I would assume that the statistics are similar for guys, probably felt some obligation to not let down the team by failing classes. This commitment to the team would therefore help avoid the low grades that often lead to dropping out. Also, sports teach responsibility, and as a college student myself, I know that the people who are responsible are the ones who do well in college. The only difference is in college, you are only responsible for yourself whereas a high school athlete would be responsible to his or her team. However, because of the accountability that comes from being a part of a team, there is the added "pressure" to not let other people down. When this accountability is taken away through the individual college education, the residue of this habit will still be present except for now, in theory, the individual will realize that he or she should not let him or herself down just like he or she would not let the team down. Also, girls who play high school sports are half as likely to become pregnant as teenagers which also connects to the fact that they realize they need to take care of themselves for the sake of the team as a whole.

So, if anybody tells you that athletics interfere with academic pursuits, send them to me. While at the time sports might seem like a distraction in the already busy lives of many young people, always remember that they are teaching different, yet equally as valuable, skills that will benefit the children for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Trust Your System

I might as well just say it; I am a control freak. It's not that I desire control of my life in all scenarios, but I sincerely need control over my fantasy baseball team. Now that you know this deep dark secret hidden in the recesses of my personality, imagine how difficult it was for me to miss one of my fantasy drafts yesterday afternoon while I was watching the Raiders bring home a state championship. Obviously, being at the game was a higher priority than drafting my team, but I did have a hard time not wondering how my team was surviving at the hands of the mindless computer draft machine. This year was only compounded when we went grocery shopping after the game and delayed my viewing of the same team for another hour. However, when I finally rushed in the door and popped open my laptop to find out the fate of my future champions, surprisingly, everything turned out all right. I had pre-ranked all of my players using the tools that Yahoo provides to hopefully ensure a team that I would be proud to call my own. However, this sense of anxiety taught me something about business and the hazards of entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, it is virtually impossible to be in control of every aspect of the business by yourself. At some point, you need to put your trust in the systems you have put in place to do the job just as well as you would if you were there. Just like I had to put my trust in the ranking system that I had customized, the entrepreneur also needs to trust in employees to bear some of the burden that a start up business requires. If you fail to do this, you ultimately run the company into the ground because the responsibilities of micromanagement will rise and eventually overwhelm a single person. In my freshman business class, we read a story about Mrs. Fields. Although Mrs. Fields has become a very powerful brand, the original Mrs. Fields had a hard time letting go of the company and allowing it to grow. As a company that thrived on a homey feel, she decided that it was her responsibility to ensure that it happened in every single store. Obviously, this stifled the growth of the company and eventually led to Mrs. Fields losing control of her company that she desired to entirely control. So, any entrepreneur or future entrepreneur, remember that even if you do not have complete control over your company at all times, it can turn out all right, and you will still have a good shot at the championship.
Image courtesy of ©

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Tribute to the Big Day

How many times have a father and son win their first state championships on the same day for two different teams? Well, I honestly don't know, but take whatever number you came up with and add one to it because it happened today in the Barre Auditorium. Congratulations to both John and Brian Pellegrini on their state championships in divisions two and four!

John, the assistant coach for the Williamstown Blue Devils, saw his team take down Proctor and deny the Phantoms their fifth straight Division Four Championship. (Note: I said earlier today that Proctor had won 97 straight games. I heard some conflicting reports at the Aud today, but we all agree that the streak was over 90 games at least). Although Williamstown made me nervous throughout the game, they persevered and quickly changed the property rights from Proctor's self-proclaimed "Our House" to a new owner.

Brian's Raiders, on which he is one of three graduating seniors, seemed to have all they could handle through the first three quarters while trying to shake away the Missisquoi Thunderbirds. However, the fourth quarter gave them the opportunity to separate from the Thunderbirds and allowed all three seniors a huge win and a round of thunderous applause to end their careers on.

I'm sure that you all will hear all the stats from this game on the news or read them in the paper, so I won't bore you here. I just want to throw out my congratulations to these two teams and in particular these two guys who I have seen use their respective talents throughout the years and our hometown in the OC.

Image courtesy of

Matchup for the Ages

I'm sure you all have had this; that feeling of anticipation before an important event. Today is one of those days, the day that six of the best teams in Vermont descend upon Barre to try the claim division championships. Approximately 60 players will leave it all on the floor while trying to bring a crown back to the cheering hometown. Today's games have personal meaning for me as history might perhaps repeat itself again. The Proctor Phantoms will be going for their fifth straight championship and sixth out of the last seven. This team is riding a 97 game winning streak; some of these players have never lost a high school basketball game in their career. Some people will argue with my claim because two years ago, if some of you will remember, there was a terrible snowstorm and caused many games to be postponed. One such game was between Proctor and Twin Valley which they had much trouble rescheduling. In fact, they had so much trouble rescheduling the game that they played it as an exhibition after the deadline to submit games for playoffs. As you may have guessed, Proctor lost this game. Therefore, the story was run in several newspapers that Proctor had finally lost. However, I refuse to count this as a loss. My rationale is the simple fact that Proctor was ready to make yet another run at the championship. While I was not at the game, I assume that the Phantoms were not playing their starters the entire game simply because why would they risk injuring these players right before making a playoff run? Therefore, even though everybody may tell you that Proctor does not have a 97 game winning streak, don't believe them

Officially, they still have a 97 game streak although they will face a tough test today against the Williamstown Blue Devils who advanced to the finals in one of the greatest games I've ever seen. I highly recommend the highlight film on the Central Sports Network. With all of the momentum that follows a miraculous buzzer beater, Williamstown will be riding high in hopes of bringing home a championship to the OC. This is going to be what I hope is a matchup for the ages, and I hope I will see many of you there!

This image is courtesy of

Friday, March 5, 2010

Season's Greetings

If anybody was there for the beginning of this blog, you'll remember my obsession with fantasy baseball. Well, the season begins again tomorrow. How will it go? Even I do not know although I do intend to win the three leagues that I am part of. Therefore, I wanted to have a strategy that would allow me to pick the best team possible. Here's the list I came up with to help me decide where players should be picked.

Last year's statistics are incredibly important. Often times, if a player has a solid previous year and career in general, he is a safe bet for fantasy. The only problem with trusting the last year's statistics is that you will have your one-hit wonders. Roger Maris had a three-year span in his career between 1960 and 1962 in which he hit 133 of his 275 career home runs and drove in 354 of his 851 career RBIs. Somebody drafting a team in 1963 would have been in for quite a surprise when his numbers returned to the form that they had been before the three-year power surge. Therefore, you need to be careful when viewing just last year's stats.
• I also like to look at whether or not a player has been injured recently. Often times, I do take a risk on an injured player, but I only do this in the late rounds simply because I would hate to waste a starting spot pick. Also, I often take this risk on pitchers; in the past few years I have lucked out by choosing the likes of Ben Sheets and Chris Carpenter. However, this does not always work out as, at about midseason last year, I traded for Cole Hamels at highly reduced value with the hope that he would rebound. That didn't happen, but nevertheless, I am very careful when viewing previously injured players.
• Finally, one more tip I live on is the fact that you can absolutely not play favorites. I am a huge Phillies fan, but often times I have one or two Phillies on my fantasy team. It doesn't matter how much I like Brett Myers; when he struggled last year, he had no place on my team. Whoever has seen the movie Little Big League will understand that being a fan is not part of the business. You must be able to separate favoritism from a winning team. Nobody will think any less of you for wanting to create a dominant team.

I hope that this strategy works as well for you as it has for me over the past few years. Remember though, nobody can predict the future. Even the best strategy can fail while drafting, so keep your eyes on the free-agent pool as the season progresses and never be afraid to supplement your roster. It is possible to draft a lemon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Budget Increase

Recently, I wrote a story about how the war-torn country of Sri Lanka is using sports as a main medium for national recovery. It is interesting that this country can potentially use athletics to stimulate the economy while in America sports are cut because of the bad economy at places such as the University of Vermont. An article in the Christian Science Monitor mentioned the fact that the University of California -- San Marcos students recently voted to increase fees by $120 per year to help support the athletic program. Personally, I was surprised at this simply because sports are normally one of the first things that get cut when the belts are tightened. However, San Marcos must see some intrinsic value in preserving the sports program that many other colleges have not valued. I think I might see where they're coming from. For one thing, this campus obviously values the athletic department, so cutting it would most likely damage student morale. And, to be honest, college education is so expensive anyway that I bet most students would not mind paying an extra $400 to make their time on campus more enjoyable and filled with more activity. Honestly, what is the difference between $100,000 of debt and $100,400 of debt? It is still crazy. Also, there are just about 9200 students on campus. However, only about 1300 came out to vote. Therefore, it seems as though the only people who voted are the extremes who either really wanted to keep the teams afloat or who really did not want to pay that extra money. Therefore, I am glad that San Marcos did not cut the Cougars; I don't know much about the city of San Marcos, but I would bet that there are be a whole lot less to do without the athletic program.

The Anatomy of a Buzzer Beater

The crowd roars, the scoreboard does not show a pleasant tale. Down by two with 3 seconds left, it seems as if this orange sphere that has been my passion if not obsession over the past 18 years clutches my destiny. It refuses to let go; my mind is telling me that quite simply that everything I worked for and sweated for and suffered for has come down to this one moment. No other win, no matter how sweet and fulfilling it felt at the time, is worth anything right now. Right now, all that matters is just that; right now. Some would call this my moment in time, my one moment to own for all history. A moment that simply would become indelibly stamped on not just my memory, but everyone else in the gym would remember it too. I would not just be another good player in the incredibly long list of good high school basketball players; I would be the player who hit the shot to win the championship. There is a major difference.

I see the crowd either praying for a miracle or quite possibly praying for one more miss in my career that had been cluttered with several misses. There had been there misses that had not mattered in the final outcome of the game, there had been misses that did not seem to cost us the game at the time, and there had been misses that had indeed lost us the game. I knew that this would not happen now. I had missed too much to miss one more time. Despite the fact that the ball seemed to hold on to my destiny that moment, I knew it had to be a bright future. I knew it had to be one that resulted in a new legend in the annals of high school history. I knew it would be one that I would tell all of my buddies in the nursing home someday and even perhaps write about in my memoirs. I knew that this moment had to turn out right, so with 2.4 seconds left I planted my feet and launched myself quite possibly into the lower stratosphere. I rose as the clock dropped; I felt the ball roll off of my fingertips. The arcing projectile rose and rose as the clock came to a halt at zero. As the ball began to drop, I knew there are no alternatives; it needed to go in.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I don't know if any of you all remember Chris Coste debuting for the Philadelphia Phillies as a 33-year-old rookie. In a game where youth and potential are highly valued, it is amazing that a player supposedly past his prime was able to actually receive a decent amount of playing time. This year, there could possibly be a 32-year-old rookie which is still very cool. Randy Ruiz is hoping to make receive first significant playing time in the major leagues this year with the Blue Jays. According to this article I read on Yahoo Sports, if Ruiz received the same amount of at-bats that Hank Aaron took during his career, he would have 1075 home runs. Granted, many of these home runs have possibly been due to the fact that his weaknesses have not been discovered by major-league pitching. Nevertheless, this number is very impressive and shows the enormous power potential Ruiz has. This article also contributes to the idea that perhaps, best case scenario, he could turn into a modern-day Hank Sauer. Sauer began his career at the age of 31, but he played 15 more years and even won an MVP award. However, worst case scenario, Ruiz might not make the team and continue his trek to the majors. I guess we will not know until the end of this month, but I for one at least hope that Ruiz finally gets his shot at the major leagues. His minor league numbers are certainly good enough, but who knows what the unpredictable spring will bring for Ruiz and the rest of the hopeful rookies?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Aud

We live in an age where newer is almost definitely better. We always want the new car, new computer, or in the case of many schools, a new gymnasium. However, once you lose something that has become a part of a tradition, it is very hard to revitalize that magic and sense of mystique. In Vermont, people tend to still treasure the glory of what was. However, as The Boss immortally said, "Glory days will pass you by." Therefore, people need to blend what was great about the past and hold on to it while still being aware of the needs of modern society. This is a hard balance to find however simply because nostalgia and modernity value many different things. There is one place that has become what I believe is the perfect balance of what was great about Barre 50 years ago and what is still celebrating the modern athlete. As you may have guessed by now, the place I'm talking about is the Barre Auditorium. This building was originally a New Deal creation made by the WPA in 1939. Therefore, as you might have guessed as well, it is pretty old. However, that's the charm that this building holds. You can feel the history in the brick walls; you can see worn out patches on the floor where numerous athletes have struggled in pursuit of the elusive state championship. Even though this sense of nostalgia is so heavy, there is always room for more heroes. There always is room for more buzzer beaters, epic performances, and regrettably the dreams of what could have been. That is the dark side to the Aud; while many players have celebrated there, an equal number have achieved the dream of "going to the Aud," but had not been able to pull out the ultimate victory. In a way though there is comfort in knowing that you are not the only team to have failed to achieve what some would say is the reason to compete.

Tonight, I witnessed two more clashes between four great teams. While the final scores were not incredibly close, the simple fact that they played in that building and on that floor has added to the legend of the Barre Auditorium. These athletes will be able to remember the time that they played on this floor. The floor that they have fallen on and added a bit more wear to is still there and hopefully will continue to be. If this piece of history is ever taken away from Vermont basketball, that piece of history will never be able to be regained. The Auditorium may be different than it was 50 years ago, but the history still remains relevant to all athletes who play there today.