It has finally happened; the NCAA has expanded the tournament field to 68 teams. I know that more basketball is always a good thing, but I'm not really huge on the added games simply because I feel like the only reason they were created was because the NCAA wanted to allow more at-large bids so that the power schools have better chances of getting in. Schools like UVM are going to be relegated to the play-in game, and some of them will never get to see the teams like Syracuse that beat the Catamounts this year. I realize that this is a business move because having more games will generate more revenue through advertising, ticket sales, etc. However, I feel like this usurps the power of each conference receiving a bid because some of these schools from non-basketball conferences won't even be able to make the field of 64 and not have that "one shining moment." I know that the little team never has much of a chance versus the powerhouses, but it's definitely fun to have that one try. Sometimes, upsets happen, and people like me get very excited. Now, all of these teams who have the opportunity to pull off the biggest upset will have to play one game before the one seed and already be tired. I love March Madness, but I think that we need to preserve the tournament as a showcase of the best from each conference and not allow all of these at-large bids to come in and more ACC or Big East teams.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Some things aren't meant to be. One of them is snow at the end of April. Okay, there is my daily complaint just like yesterday. Now, on with the real discussion. There is a certain value that can be gained by being "a student of the game." What I mean is, if you put in a similar effort to study a sport, you can learn all about it just like you would learn calculus. That's why I have become a YouTube fanatic. There aren't very many outlets for power soccer, but YouTube is fortunately one of them. With so many videos online of national and international competition, it is obvious that I'm learning from the best. I think that by learning what other people are doing well, you can improve and learn more than you would have before. Just this morning, I was watching a video about passing. That seems pretty basic I know, but I was having trouble figuring out how to get more power on my passes. The guys in the video use the same guard I do, and it looked like I spin just as fast, but I'm not sure how they hit harder. However, when they hit the ball, the guard did not shake; as you might expect, mine does. So, I need to make sure that I follow through on my spins to regain the momentum that I've lost when the guard shifts. Without putting in the study time, I would not have learned this, and my game would have most likely suffered as a result.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
First of all, I just want to say that this snow is ridiculous. Okay, now that I've ranted to you, on with more important issues. I assume that many of you may have noticed the five-year, $125,000,000 contract that Ryan Howard signed a few days ago to remain with the best team in baseball. I was thinking about the amplitude of this amount of money. What would you do with $25,000,000 a year? Personally, I have no idea they anything of that amount, and I would have to decide what to do with it for five consecutive years. I think I would definitely keep enough to pay off the house, car, or any other debt I would have outstanding. Then I think I would put some of that in the bank for future retirement purposes. I think I would end up donating a lot of it to various charities simply because it is a nice thing to do and there comes a point where more money does not change your life. If it doesn't change your lifestyle, there is really no reason to keep the money. Money in the bank that isn't doing anything except for generating more interest for me would seem to be kind of useless. I always used to say that I would want to buy a Hummer if I ever became rich, but that will probably be impossible by the time I am able to afford one since the brand has folded. So, I'm not sure what type of car I will buy now, but I'm not Ryan Howard so this problem isn't mine yet.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I was asked an interesting question today. When was the power wheelchair invented? So, that is what we're going to be addressing today. The simple answer is to be found on Wikipedia; the electric wheelchair was invented in the 1940s. Why was it invented? George Klein was working for the National Research Council of Canada and needed to develop a device for wounded veterans from World War II with limited mobility. The obvious benefits to the power wheelchair allowed people such as me who have limited upper body strength to move around independently. However, it's not much fun to just drive around with nothing to do, so what else is there to do but create games? Yeah, you probably knew I was going to go there. In the 1970s, French gym teachers developed a way for students who used power wheelchairs to participate in competitive soccer matches with each other. Meanwhile, an alternate version was created in Canada in the 1980s. This was the version that eventually permeated America through the traditionally progressive Cal-Berkeley. Another version of power soccer was also being developed in Japan and that version was adopted by England as well. However, in 2004, an American coach traveled to Belgium and through collaboration in Belgium as well as France decided to create an international body to govern power soccer. That, my friends, is a history of the power wheelchair and how to have fun with it. Check out the links to see where I got my info from, and keep reading!
Monday, April 26, 2010
It seems like during the summer when you have a picnic or some other outdoor festivities that the weather refuses to cooperate. You really want to get outside and have fun, but annoying weather holds you back. This is kind of how I feel about power soccer. I don't happen to have a gymnasium in my house unfortunately, and our driveway is situated at a pretty steep downhill angle. Therefore, I have to go practice while waiting for my sister to finish pole vaulting high school. At the time we pick her up, there are very few vehicles left in the large flat lot, so my mom and I get some practice time in. However, as I sit here this morning looking out the window, I'm a bit nervous about the prospect of playing tonight. I have played in the rain before, but I have to be a little bit more careful to make sure that I don't go sliding off on the slippery pavement. Practicing outside has other inherent issues such as much more friction between the ball and pavement than would be present on the nice wooden gym floor we normally practice on as a team. Therefore, I need to hit the ball harder to make it go the same distance as it would indoors. I don't know, I hope I can get outside and play tonight, but I will have to wait for the weather. Don't you hate it when things are beyond your control?
Photo by Katie@!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I think that it is very interesting to go out of state to watch basketball. Having spent the weekend in southern New Hampshire watching teams from all over New England, I think that it is safe to say that just because a team is from farther away does not mean they are exponentially better. That said, there are many teams from out-of-state that are exponentially better. Another important thing I noticed over this weekend was the difference between guys and girls basketball. I'm not going to get into the debate of which is better simply because I know that someone would read that and call me sexist, so I am just going to say that there is a vast difference between the speed of the games. I watched U-17 girls directly followed by U-17 boys, and I noticed that the guys' game ran at a much higher tempo. This could have been as simple as the differentiation of playing styles between the different teams. However, both teams ran a similar press, and the boys' simply ran much faster, and the subsequent break was executed quicker. I'm not really sure why because some girls are just as fast as guys, but these particular games had a major difference in regards to the speed. Whatever the reason was, the whole weekend was enjoyable at the Rockingham Athletic Club. I think you all should check out from the competition from as far north as Vermont and as far south as Long Island.
Photo from Flikr
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Tennessee Titans have effectively raised the team GPA this draft day. In the sixth round, the Titans selected Myron Rolle from Florida State University. At least, he was from Florida State a year ago. Rolle had the potential to be drafted last year but instead decided to travel to England as one of the few and chosen Rhodes Scholars. Not only is this guy one of the finest minds in America, but we also found out today that he is one of the top football players at his age. Talk about multi-talented! He completed his Exercise Science degree at Florida State in 2 1/2 years instead of the typical four years. He then proceeded to earn his master's in Medical Anthropology at Oxford which is generally regarded to be one of the most challenging as well as prestigious in the entire world. Many skills do overlap the between rigorous academic work and athletic excellence. There still needs to be a commitment, a solid work ethic, and a certain degree of tenacity are needed to reach the full potential. I'm not sure how well the Rolle will do in the NFL, but from what I've read about him, he seems to be a dedicated guy who will become the success as a doctor even if the NFL does not work out.
Photo by Dimitry B
Friday, April 23, 2010
See, today is Friday. That means that I will be writing fiction. This fiction is going to be slightly different as I am hoping to do it all in dialogue. Here it goes.
"Hey man, what's goin' on?"
"Nothin' too much really, just the usual."
"It seems like that's all that really ever goes on, the usual. Nothing really changes around here."
"I know how that is; I've been going to the same newsstand every morning for the past 10 years to buy the same paper from the same clerk. For a society obsessed with progress, it seems like we got left behind."
"Did we get left behind, or did we choose to stay behind? It seems like they're just as many people who oppose all of the technological development as those who embrace it."
"I personally chose to advance with society, but that is where the problem lies. Just because I chose advanced technology, I am all of a sudden incompatible with those who wouldn't catch up. I benefit so much from using my new computer programs when I am working with users who have the program, but it takes me twice as long to convert back to the old-fashioned ways."
"Was it really worth it then to upgrade?"
"It's like anything; if you only do something halfway, it's going to be worse off. It's better to run less efficient compatible programs than to run incompatible programs that will take much more time to convert anyway. It's all in consistency; old or new, compatibility is what's important."
Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It was very funny today when I opened up my Facebook and saw a group that was dedicated to people who grew up in the 90s. The particular item that caught my eye was the Chicago Bulls being the best team ever. However, I thought that tonight I would add a few more important events that happened in the 90s that I feel are just as important.
• The home run gains new meaning as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa duke it out in 1998 in order to best Roger Maris' almost 40-year-old record.
• Michael Jordan retired twice.
• Magic Johnson and Larry Bird both retire only once though.
• Steroids begin to become some sort of plague; at least they're finally recognized as a problem somewhat.
• Tiger Woods emerges as golf's new phenom.
• Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman make the Cowboys one of the most exciting teams in the NFL.
• Christian Laettner nails an amazing buzzer beater for the Blue Devils as they triumphed over Kentucky.
• The Dream Team is created.
• Major League Baseball survived the strike.
• Most importantly, I was born.
I hope you all enjoyed this brief trip down memory lane. If you have a favorite sports moment from the 90s, please feel free to add your comment or e-mail me, and I'll post them as comments anyway. Sometimes, you just get that feeling of nostalgia and have to let it out.
Photo by sling@flickr
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I was very happy to see Roy Halladay look like an absolute machine against the Braves tonight. It was pretty awesome to see such efficiency on the mound. I also appreciate the fact that he does not waste any time throwing the ball. Any of you remember John Rocker? He had the longest most convoluted windup before delivering the ball because he had to adjust his hat and uniform 1,000,000 times before finally deciding that he better pitch. I realize that baseball is a long game, and the delayed action is quite honestly one of the most endearing traits because there's so much time to develop the tension and quite honestly the agony. However, enough is enough when that game has been going on for three hours already and the pitcher seems to be doubling that game time. I think that if I were a pitcher, I would want to work as quickly as possible just because I would be a nervous wreck. If I had to stand on the hill for a minute between pitches, I'll would make myself too nervous and probably end up throwing the ball into left field or some crazy location like that. I will admit that I was a little bit shocked when I saw Cliff Lee dumped after all he did for the Phillies last year. However, when it's obvious that Roy Halladay is what was coming in, I guess we can't complain too much.
Photo by furnstein
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Today is April 20. On May 15, I'll be playing my first power soccer match in Durham, New Hampshire. That means that I have 25 days to prepare and become capable of playing at a competitive level. That is why I must go practice as much as possible between now and then. But how do you improve? Personally, I have been working on the one area that has given me problems ever since I started playing: the spin shot. The idea is to spin your chair at top speed and hit the ball with the side of your guard as the power soccer form of a corner kick. The problem is, I have a hard time judging where my chair is relative to where the rolling ball will end up. I've gotten to the point where I can hit a stationary ball with quite a bit of power, but I still need to get the timing down with how fast I can turn relative to how fast the ball is rolling and where I need to hit it to make it go where I want it to. However, I'm working on this; do not fear teammates, hopefully I won't totally miss the ball while trying to make some spectacular shot during the game. It has been said that practice makes perfect, and I'm beginning to believe it as my skills are improving. What else is there to say but that I am excited to go and see how good we are compared to our Granite State counterparts.
Photo by Tony the Misfit
Monday, April 19, 2010
I was watching Donovan McNabb at his first minicamp with the Washington Redskins on ESPN News. That got me thinking about how hard it must be for him to learn an entirely different system. There have only been probably three major changes in Donovan's football career. He transitioned from Mount Carmel High School to Syracuse and from Syracuse to Philadelphia. However, it seems like in football every team runs a much different system and therefore would require almost an entire re-learning of the way the way to play football, especially for a quarterback. Certain teams require a quarterback to be a pocket passer while others prefer them to scramble when the opportunity arises. For a quarterback who was used to one system, it would be very difficult to change the entire way you view the game. Nevertheless, according to ESPN, McNabb is adjusting very well to Washington, and why wouldn't he? He is obviously a very intelligent guy not to mention a Pro Bowl quarterback. He led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and to a few conference championship, but I hope that he won't do that now in Washington! I think that the Eagles are in an interesting position right now. With Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick in the pocket, this season could be interesting. However, for a guy who got booed when he was drafted because Eagles fans wanted Ricky Williams from Texas (according to Wikipedia), we will miss him in Philadelphia!
Photo by Kevin Burkett
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Another busy weekend down, another AAU tournament done, and another weekend closer to summer. This was a very interesting weekend as I learned how to ensure that the other team has no idea what play you are calling. Chilling out in Concord High School on Saturday night, I watched some 16-year-old guys teams walk onto the court. I had never seen one of the teams before, the St. Bruno Cougars, and I did not recognize any of their players from my variety of regular-season wanderings through the state. However, as we all know, AAU teams travel from all over to play, so I did not think much about the fact that I didn't know them. However, as soon as the game began, I realized I had no idea what these players were talking about. No, it wasn't a new strategy that I had never heard of; the players were all speaking French. I am not sure how well the other team knew French, but I honestly had no idea what these guys were talking about. Normally, I can break down codenames such as the relatively generic "five" meaning man-to-man defense or "fifty-five" meaning full court man-to-man. However, these guys could have been explaining the entire game plan, and I would not have known the better. I guess those are the hazards of being a Latin student in high school. So, my advice to any team that will play against the team I intend to have in the future, speak any language besides English or Latin, and I'll have no idea what you're talking about (although I do intend to become multilingual sometime in my future; the idea has always intrigued me).
Photo by Ian Muttoo
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I love the feeling of watching history in the making. The tension while watching the last out of a no-hitter like the one that Ubaldo Jimenez is throwing right now (although in the midst of writing this sentence, he finished off this amazing feat which was the first in Colorado history) make you love the game even more. It is pretty awesome to think that you saw the first of something ever is awesome. However, this got me thinking about anytime something historic happens. There can only be one first time for anything. Once the first time is over, every other subsequent time is simply a repetition. It's similar to the first day of school; you're so excited to go back and see all your friends that the first day is amazing. However, the excitement soon turns into the idea that you have to go back for over half the year and do the same thing every day. In the same manner, Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-hitter in Colorado history; nobody else will ever be able to do that ever again. People say that history repeats itself, but the first time will always hold a special place in Colorado history that can never be done again.
Photo by Simon Davison
Friday, April 16, 2010
Sitting on the bench in Philadelphia during a rainy April night might not seem like a lot of fun to the average fan. All bench players do is sit on the edge of their seats and wait for maybe that one pitch that will be thrown to only one of them that night. However, for me, this is a dream come true. Any reason to play a game and get paid deserves some major credit. From the day I slapped my first baseball off our town's cheap plastic tee and ran the bases without fear of getting out, I knew that this game had captured my future. I knew that my future aspirations needed to be played on a bright green diamond in front of thousands of people. I never thought of myself as a particularly great player even in Little League. I would watch the Little League World Series on ESPN and think, "Those kids are so much better than I am." I hadn't realized yet that it was possible to fly under the radar throughout your baseball career. I hadn't realized that many baseball players are drafted from community college or junior college. You didn't need to go to a baseball powerhouse like you needed to go to a basketball powerhouse to be considered in the draft. I didn't learn this until I indeed had become one of the players who needed to fly under the radar. The fact that many baseball players had flown under the radar in the past became my hope for the future. I knew that if I wanted to make a run as a baseball player, I would need to embrace my role and thrive in it because giving up would have obviously not worked. Nevertheless, it took more than hard work to get me through my tough years and into my dream.
Photo by szlea
Thursday, April 15, 2010
There's something about giving a presentation that makes me feel like talking about something. However, tonight I feel like talking about presentation itself. I was thinking about the many different ways that one can get across his or her point. One can go Bobby Knight on the audience and scream their minds out. One can go John Wooden on the audience and simply come across as intelligent and yet mellow. However, no matter how you want to come across, I think that there are a few key ideas that must be included in any good presentation.
• Avoid "filler words"- words like "umm…," the excessive and improper use of "and," "stuff," and the improper use of "like" can really kill a presentation in my mind. Admittedly, I am overly compulsive with bad grammar (although the other day on the highway to Burlington, a particularly interesting and insulting sign criticizing drivers who were riding his bumper use the wrong form of "your" instead of "you're" which I found hilarious; if you're going to insult somebody, please at least use proper grammar). Also when speaking aloud, putting a filler word in between sentences simply gives the appearance of a run on which does not separate ideas. Again, I am overly sensitive to improper grammar, and I'm sure that I mess up far too often with my own grammar, but when presenting a rehearsed speech, please make sure that it is somewhat similar to the English that you would feel comfortable printing on this paper.
• Make eye contact- don't pretend to be a politician and read off of the Teleprompter at some point on the wall. While eye contact may be intimidating for the presenter, it makes a much better impression on the audience because it seems like the presenter cares about making a connection with each individual audience member.
• Use a comfortable tone- I realize that the presenter should be dynamic to be able to appeal to the audience and draw them in. However, a poor effort at this will appear fake and therefore not be as strong as a presentation that is comfortable. Very few people are talented actors and actresses, so for the rest of us, we need to make the most of what dramatic talent we do have within our bounds, but we cannot go beyond dramatic limits just to prove a point.
I'm not a professional orator; the latest audience had spoken in front of was probably about 1000 people at my high school graduation. Therefore, I'm probably not qualified to offer my opinions for all of you to follow. However, if I am ever your college professor and I give you a presentation, you better turn back to this list.
Photo by Stephan Röhl
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I was thinking about the concept of the athlete after writing about a potential honor code in athletics. What exactly is an athlete? Merriam-Webster defines athlete as "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina." This is a purely physical definition however; today, we expect athletes to be much more than just physically talented people. They should have some level of moral and ethical behavior as well as being a talented enough orator to handle the often overly critical media with grace and charisma. However, is this expecting too much from these athletes who are still obviously human? I think about how, in high school and college, the athlete needs to hold his or her grades up as well as perform at a high level on the court or field. However, what if the most talented athlete in the school had no desire to study? He or she would not be able to play on the team and therefore could not be an athlete representing that school. I think that these measures are valuable as they encourage the athlete to be more than just an athlete. We all get sick of hearing the term "student-athlete" because it is long and somewhat awkward, but that is what we expect of athletes while they are in school. They should be able to perform as a student as well as an athlete. I do not know what you would term a professional athlete because we expect them to obviously be an athlete as well as a role model or perhaps an example. Therefore, should the athlete be termed as the "example-athlete?" Personally, I think that even if we do not use this term, the athlete should be aware of the position that he or she holds. When I was a young child, I conformed to the rest of society by saying that Michael Jordan was my favorite player. I never raised him to the idol-like level as some people did, but in the mid-90s, who didn't want to Be Like Mike? With a player with such great media exposure, he or she will be will be perceived as a role model to follow even if he or she hasn't done anything worthy of following (this is a general statement, not targeted at Michael Jordan). Here is where the problem lies; some athletes who are perceived as role models are really not people children should be emulating. How to solve this? It is either going to take a change of the values of professional athletes or a more discerning eye from the public to see through the athletes who are just plain athletes, not "example-athletes." There are plenty of role models in the world today, but not everyone who happens to be in the news and be extraordinarily talented in one area is by necessity a perfect example to follow otherwise.
© 2009 Jean-Marc Kuffer / CC BY 2.0
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I have been reading a lot about academic honor codes recently for a group presentation on Thursday night. For those of you who don't know, the idea of an honor code is that the student can be trusted to be honest and that based on their word, the professor will know that the student did not plagiarize or cheat in some other way. Although you may say that this would not work because some people have no problem with lying, it works surprisingly well on campuses that utilize this technique. However, I was wondering how you expand this idea of an honor code to the athletic world. Let's face it, the athlete is under constant scrutiny from everyone concerning steroid use or his or her personal life. Ben Roethlisberger has recently been threatened with a charge of sexual assault. Obviously, he said he did not do it. The charges were never filed because there was a lack of sufficient proof. Therefore, we have reached the same conclusion we would have reached if we could have taken Ben on his word. However, if we are operating under the assumption that Ben was honest, then the lady obviously violated this honor code because this scenario would have her being incorrect. Therefore, who do we trust? I would like to say that everyone can be trusted and tell the truth even if they're in the wrong because they should know it's the right thing to do. However, this does bother me somewhat because we are saying that we can trust a bunch of college students but not grown athletes. I realize that we do need to keep our eyes on people simply because people mess up all the time, but it is a shame people continue to put themselves in situations where these types of accusations (which are often well-founded) endanger their image and the image of the sport as well.
Photo Courtesy Of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denverjeffrey/4095365522/
Monday, April 12, 2010
Every year, the Phillies started out slowly. Inevitably, we would end up far behind the Mets or Braves then have to fight back for the rest of the year only to end up just short. However, what has happened this year? At 5-1, the Phillies are already ahead of the division driven forward by an amazing offense that has consistently hammered away at the battered pitching staffs of the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. Before we get too excited about the Phillies' hot start, remember that we only beat the Nationals and the Astros, and wins are wins. You need to win the games that you are supposed to win, and if you can manage to win half the games that are evenly matched, you should have pretty good success. I tend to fall into the trap of believing that the Phillies should win every game and therefore wonder why they don't always win. Much of this is probably due to the natural variation inherent in baseball. When a given team throws somewhere between 100 and 200 pitches, on a bad day any number of these pitches could be terrible and get hammered 500 feet. However, some days every one of those pitches will hit its intended target just like the Phillies have been doing. Boy I hope that they can keep this up for a while longer to build up a lead on the way to a third straight World Series.
Photo by dameetch on Flikr
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Last night, CC Sabathia took a no-hitter into the eighth inning with two outs. This means that he survived 85% of the feat which is one of the rarest accomplishments in baseball. There have been 281 no-hitters which may sound like a lot but in theory there are 2430 games per season in Major League Baseball since they added the Diamondbacks and Rays in the 90s. Even in the small amount of time since then, over 20,000 games have been played, and the National League was founded in 1876. Granted, the schedule has been added to since then because of the American League as well as other expansion teams as well as natural expansion. However, we can still assume that there have been over 100,000 games played in the history of baseball and only 281 of them were no-hitters. This equates to .3% of games being no-hitters if there were indeed only 100,000 games which I think is definitely under shooting. Let's think about what this tiny probability means. If there were 1000 marbles in a jar and you had to pick one, there would only be three marbles that you could choose that would turn into no-hitters. Those are crazy odds, and every player who has never thrown a no-hitter needs to make that same lucky grab from the marbles. So don't feel too bad CC; there are immense odds against throwing a no-hitter that proportionally very few pitchers have ever done.
Photo by Keith Allison on Flikr
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I love man-to-man defense as a general rule as long as you are just as athletic as your opponent. If your opponent can outrun you, man-to-man defense especially of the full-court variety will most likely fail. Therefore, an athletic team will be able to lock down their opponent with man-to-man most of the time simply because they will not get burned. However, just as the old proverb says, there will always be someone out there who is better than you are, or at least more athletic than you are. How then would a team who has played man-to-man defense all season defend this one team who is able to outrun you? The simple answer is through help defense. I know this sounds ridiculously obvious because every coach preaches the emphasis of help defense. Nevertheless, very few teams do it correctly. Why do very few teams do it correctly? I think the problem often lies with the players who are not aware of what is going on. Help defense needs to be a team effort, if one player fails to help, the whole system will fall apart. If someone gets burned on defense, somebody needs to step in to stop penetration. This will mean abandoning their assignments somewhat, but you need to force the offense to make that one more pass or take the contested layup. In either of these two results, there is a greater potential for error than that of the wide-open layup. Taking advantage of the help coverage and therefore open shooter most likely on the perimeter requires an awareness of a player that the opening is even there. In driving to the hoop from the right side, if help comes from the right side, the attacker will have his or her back to the wide-open player. Obviously then, the defender will be able to "cheat" over onto the open man without sacrificing a wide-open shot potentially. Even if players are getting consistently burned by a more athletic opponents, I think that with a solid man to man defense that can execute proper help, even the unathletic teams will be able to keep up and shut down their opponent.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Okay, I am changing up the story for this week. Don't worry, I will return to the business world in a while, but right now enjoy another new installment of Fiction Friday!
How to make it to the goal effectively, how to somehow deke their goalie, and how to put another point on the board. These questions rotated through my head at intervals that were so regular I felt like I was watching the stock report on Bloomberg. I had been in somewhat of a slump lately. Coming off of my fifth consecutive game without a point, I felt like my hockey mates were expecting more from me. Granted, I expected more from myself too. I'm not exactly what you might call "a good loser." I am out there to win; as Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." This may not sound at all healthy; I probably sound insane to most of you, but it seems like I have some unquenchable thirst for victory. Winning makes me feel good; it makes me feel like I have fulfilled the hopes of my teammates. I don't want to win just for myself. I have seen my teammates break down in the locker room following a tough loss and have seen the pain they have gone through. My teammates are my brothers, and I will not allow family to be in pain. We need to watch out for each other and each other's best interests. That is why I must save my teammates from this; you would save your family from sorrow and disappointment, so I save mine. If only I was able to start dominating once again.
Photo by Chase N on Flikr
Thursday, April 8, 2010
According to the old Saturday Night Live, all you need to know about economics is supply and demand because that is all you will remember five years down the road. I wish that was all I needed to know for my exam on Friday. However, economics is much more complex than that. Isn't it interesting how often times we think we know a lot about something, like economics, when we only know one small part of it, like supply and demand. I always thought economics is about money because when you hear about the economy, it relates to the supply of money. However, maybe you already know this, economics is the study of motivation. We didn't even get in the money for the first few weeks because at its most basic form, trading products for other products constitutes an economy. Money is only used to store value from some other product or service that has already been provided. Therefore, as you might have guessed, money is really worthless without the agreement backing it up to provide a service or product in the future.
Why do I bring this up? Besides economics, I have been realizing how much I do not know in regards to power soccer. I can hit the ball and control it relatively well myself, but using my teammates and being used by my teammates is what I need to develop farther. For some reason I have trouble getting a solid pass to the side; I lose my momentum too quickly. In a similar way to enrolling in an economics class to learn about economics, I have enrolled in the School of YouTube to watch Team USA as well as various clubs around the country to learn how they have become successful. Somehow, these players get amazing momentum on their spin shots that I am still trying to learn. But that is why I study; only when you know where you are heading can you begin to head there.
Photo by epicharmus on Flickr
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Inspired by one of my fantasy league competitors who released a division preview for the Mickey Mantle Division of our fantasy baseball league on ESPN, The Battle of the Blogs, I have decided to brief you all on my division, the Pete Rose Division (don't tell anyone how much I'm betting on the Perpetual Blogging Co.)
Hot Stove Philly-I personally love this team. Between Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki, this team has some of the best pure hitters in baseball. Add that to the powerful bats of Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla and one of my favorite underrated players in Cody Ross and they seem to have a great shot on the offensive side. The pitching is no slouch either behind Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett. This pair of aces backed by the always injury prone yet high ceiling Ben Sheets give Hot Stove Philly a great chance in our division.
Five Tool Prospects-I think that this team, which is led by Albert Pujols, has the potential to be well-rounded if Rich Harden and Jake Peavy can return to the form that we all know they will eventually. On offense, this team will have a lot of home runs with Pujols, Joey Votto, and Ryan Ludwick. Also, behind Chone Figgins, Brian Roberts, and Shane Victorino, the Prospects will outrun almost any team in the league. With a solid performance from Peavy and Harden, this team will be serious competition.
Sports Page Network-I love the fact that this team is led by the twin sluggers from the Twin Cities. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will definitely pace this team on offense with solid contribution from Ryan Zimmerman. This team is one of the few that can claim to have amazing bullpen pitching with Francisco Cordero, Bobby Jenks, and Matt Capps. I think that the key to success for this team will be behind Ricky Nolasco and Gavin Floyd. If these two guys can put up solid ERA and wins, this team will be able to win any category on any given week.
Babes Love Baseball-I think that the first major issue this team will need to address is the second baseman as Freddy Sanchez is on the DL and there is no backup on the bench. Other than that though, this team is going to live or die on the youth movement. Behind Matt Wieters, Cameron Maybin, and Jason Heyward on the offense, this team could be very exciting as well as high scoring with Prince Fielder anchoring first base. Dan Haren anchors a pitching staff that hopes to lead this club to the playoffs and beyond.
Perpetual Blogging Co.-I like my team, but there are definite parts that need improvement. I also went young with my offense anchored by Justin Upton and Troy Tulowitzki. However, I think the strong point of my team is my relief pitching with Mariano Rivera leading the charge supported by Jon Rauch who I hope is going to get a ton of either holds or saves now that Joe Nathan has fallen. I really need Chris Carpenter to stay healthy and team up with Ubaldo Jimenez and drive my team full speed ahead.
I hope you enjoyed this preview of my division. Please support all my competitors' blogs as well as continuing with mine!
Photo by by Ed Yourdon
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Choosing a bracket and be a humbling experience. ESPN gives you the ability to choose up to 10 brackets, so you can choose many different combinations and still have the potential to mess them all up. Surprisingly, even though my brackets did horrendously, I guess most of America did bad as three of my brackets were in the top 10% on ESPN now my absolute best was in the 97.9% percentile. Here is a link to my best bracket (I hope it opens). I guess you can tell the Ohio University kind of ruined the fun I would have had if Georgetown could have gone all the way. However, to console myself, I opened up the best bracket on ESPN which was chosen by Matt Walker. Here is a link to his bracket. It makes me feel better that nobody could have accurately chosen this entire tournament like they do some years. However, it was amazing that Matt had the Final Four as well as the championship perfect. So, congratulations Matt, nice job, but I was not particularly consoled!
On the same note, how many people wanted Butler to knock off Duke? I'm sorry to all my friends who are Duke fans, but I wanted to see a Hoosiers type story. The small school from Indiana knocking off the perennial powerhouse from the ACC would have made a great sorry that newspapers would have been talking about for the next few months. However, if it wasn't meant to be, I guess it wasn't meant to be. Nevertheless, I wish I could root for the perennial powerhouse, but I can't. There's something in my mind that urges me to root for the underdog regardless of if they have any chance of winning. I like Kansas, and I chose Kansas to win the national championship in many of my brackets, but I had to root for Lehigh when it looked like they might potentially give Kansas a run for at least the first few minutes. Apparently, I'll have to wait for next season to see the 16 seed knock off a number one seed (unless the NCAA is totally mindless and expands the tournament to 96 teams; I guess you know my opinion).
Monday, April 5, 2010
It is finally Opening Day! Almost all the ice has melted off the reservoir and we barely have any snow in our yard! What is better than that? The Phillies pulled off, or should I rephrase blasted off with, an opening day victory versus the Washington Nationals. After watching President Obama throw out the first pitch, Roy Halladay owned the mound just like we are hoped he would when we allowed Cliff Lee to be shipped off to Seattle. On top of that, Placido Polanco already has regained the loyalty of Phillies fans in his second stint on Broad Street after he was shipped off in favor of Chase Utley. While this was the right move for second base, I always thought we should have kept Polanco to play third base instead of the piece mail system that was in place with David Bell, Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez, and Pedro Feliz. I liked all of these guys, but none of them seem to be able to live up to the high expectations demanded by fans who want nothing less than perfection. I just want to remind all of the baseball fans around; the Phillies are not going anywhere this season. The only thing that I could possibly see as a hindrance would be the injury bug which has crippled the great teams before.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I was watching the girls' basketball All American game earlier today, and I was not so amazed to hear that three of those players are headed to the University of Connecticut. The team that already has the most probable number one picks in the WNBA draft also has a relatively large percentage of the best incoming freshmen in America. Connecticut will essentially have as much talent coming in as going out. It is amazing how one team can become so dominant for such a long period of time. However, how does a team go about establishing this image of dominance that is alluring enough to draw so much talent? I think that there are some main points as to why Connecticut has been able to do this.
• Excellent coaching
• Excellent reputation
• Excellent players currently
• Excellent fan support
• Excellent media coverage
• Excellent facilities
• Excellent academics
Do you notice a trend? If you want to be the best, you need to have a commitment to excellence. Excellence in and of itself does not ensure becoming the best, but in order to be the best, excellence is a prerequisite. With its commitment to excellence, the University of Connecticut has become dominant, and I think Baylor and whoever they might be playing in the finals will be up for a tall test.
Now, a few orders of business before I end tonight. First, for any of you have not figured out my April Fools' Day puzzle, look at the first letters of each word in the first two sentences in my April 1 article. What do they spell? Finally, happy Easter to all of you; remember why we have this life-changing holiday.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Most of you will probably know that I like to have a routine. I don't mind changing that routine, but I like to at least have some idea of where I am going. This being said I have found it very valuable to see where I want to be going in power soccer as well. By watching the US national team, I have seen where I want to elevate my game and how I can keep improving. After playing again today with some great competition, I've thought about how really I need to rearrange my thought process in order to succeed.
The first thing I realized was that if the ball goes towards your back left tire, you should not turn to the left as you normally would to attack face on. The reason for this is that, assuming that you were moving towards your goal while attacking, when you turn to the left, the ball will hit your chair or guard and bounce back towards the other goal. Obviously, you don't want to allow the other team a fast-break like Nate took on our team today (although it is awesome to see tenacious defense from other members of my team since I'm not really the most aggressive player on the court, and I need someone to compensate for my shortcomings). If you pivot around to the right, you'll be able to use the right side of the guard to send the pass back towards whatever teammate sent you the pass and keep the ball moving forward. Intuitively, I should want to turn left, but I'm attempting to rearrange my thoughts so that I will be able to get my guard on the ball and push it up the court quickly.
Another important thing I learned is that the only way to hit a spin shot is to get a backing start before swinging around and hammering the ball. When I first started playing, I knew that it would be easier to just turn into the ball. However, that did not give me enough momentum to hit the ball with any force. By gathering the velocity of backing up and then converting it into the turn, I was able to hit the ball much harder. Also, it is very important to make sure that turn acceleration is maxed out. My mechanic Eric maxed out my chair on to help me ram the ball and put it in the goal.
So, I'll try to keep you updated on some stuff I'm learning while playing power soccer, and I hope that I will always be able to show the game to a bigger audience.
Friday, April 2, 2010
As I sat in my office working on my latest advertising campaign, I have to admit that neither my heart nor my head were really into it. I love my job; I love trying to figure out what turns people on and how I can play off of that and motivate them to buy a product. I realize that this might sound slightly creepy as if I am some mad scientist trying to achieve mind control; however, I am not that evil. I find it as a particular challenge to try to convince people; I never hooked them up to any creepy machine to mess with their brain waves.
Anyway, enough justifying my confusing mind. I was sitting at my desk attempting to develop some way to market frozen waffles. Honestly, I was drawing a major blank. Sure, I'd marketed food products before, but that was a long time ago. Recently, I had become a quasi-specialist for our company whenever a high-tech client came and needed me to saturate the Internet. I had viral marketing on my mind, and honestly there was no hope of shaking it. However, advertising on Facebook and utilizing other social media outlets did not seem like a good way to advertise frozen breakfast products, but that was all I could think about. I grabbed my head and figured that I just needed to step back and remember all I learned in business school.
As it always seems to happen, right when I was on the verge of some amazing idea that would develop into potentially the greatest campaign I had ever developed, I heard the very distinct bass beat that begins John Bon Jovi's classic anthem "Livin' on a Prayer." I realize that this song is relatively popular and could be heard in many different places included in an office that always had the radio on, but how many reasons are there for John Bon Jovi echoing out of your coat pocket? I all but dove at my jacket and clamored for my iPhone which, as always seems to happen when you want something, got stuck on the way out. I stubbornly refused to give up and answered.
I don't want to bore you with a word for word transcription of our conversation, but I will tell you that I hadn't gotten the job... yet. I had to fly back to San Francisco for a second interview. Great, I thought, how am I ever going to tell my boss that I need another week off to interview for a job that is threatening to steal me away? However, I knew I had to do it, so I headed to the symbolic as well as literal corner office that was inhabited by my boss. After knocking and being admitted, I began what was apt to be a very awkward conversation.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Heard about Phillies Phever? Your authentic Phanatic rivals intense Liverpool fans, obsessing over losing seasons, dreams, and yesterday. Can any other franchise claim such loyalty, such devotion, and such recent success as the Phightin’Phils? Don't you want to catch the Phever and become a Phanatic? If you don't understand yet why the Phillies are the team to follow and love, I hope I'll be able to convert you by the end of this potentially persuasive argument.
First, as I have talked about before, society loves the underdog. There is some aspect within our psyche that likes to see the favored party fall. Perhaps we would like to think that even the people who are the best players are capable of being reduced to our level for at least one game, month, or season. Because of this tendency, you have to love the losingest franchise in professional sports history. The Phillies remain as the only team to record 10,000 losses in franchise history. This means that the Phillies have essentially lost enough games to have over 60 completely defeated 162 game seasons. If you can't love that image of an underdog, I don't even know how we could say that Cornell was an underdog in the NCAA tournament. The Phillies have lost almost half of their games over the years spanning 1883 through 2009; you have to feel the need to cheer for them.
If you're one of those cruel fans who won't support the underdog, let me now present the opposing argument. The Phillies are one of the best franchises in Major League Baseball right now. With the addition of Roy Halladay to anchor a pitching staff that has been admittedly shaky over the past few years being paired with the run producing ability of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Phillies have a legitimate shot to make a run at their third straight National League championship. If you can't love the Phillies because they are one of the most underachieving franchises in history, you at least need to respect them now as legitimate contenders for the World Series again. (I do realize that in New England we like to think that the Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams in existence because obviously nobody else deserves to be on that level. However, believe it or not, some Vermonters like myself do not have a particular bias towards either team.)
I hope I've convinced you to at least respect the Phillies as perhaps on the same level as the Red Sox and Yankees. I guess the only way to prove that they deserve this respect is to play hard all year and continue to prove themselves. If you still haven't figured out how this relates to April Fools' Day like I promised it would, read my first two sentences very carefully. If you figure it out, post this fact in the comments, but don't tell what it is. Everyone needs to figure it out for themselves. I'll post the answer Sunday.