Tuesday, February 28, 2006

To Dream...the Impossible Dream: Part Deux

Rob did an excellent job yesterday detailing the sad sad state of our alma mater and their (lowly) place in the CAA Conference Tournament, and with Championship Week set to kick off tonight (more on that below), I thought it wise to take a peek at three teams I'm pulling for in the "win or go home" one bid conferences. As great as it is to watch the Big East or ACC Conference tourneys, it's these one bid leagues that put the Madness in March Madness. Not to get too Dickie V on you, but these kids have played their hearts out all season with one goal - Make The Dance. It could have been a terrible year up to this point, but it doesn't matter. It all comes down to one week in March where, all cliches aside, anything can happen (see Lamar in 2000, coached by former Siena great Mike Deane, starting the Southland Conference tourney at 11-15 and running the table to get in). The excitement and emotion of an America East or Big South or MAAC Tournament Final is palpable, and you can't help but get sucked into these games. God damn it I'm fired up...let's get on with this show...

Big South
Birmingham Southern Panthers 19-8, 12-4
RPI 140 (taken from Ken Pomeroy's superb college hoops website)
Yes, the Horizon and Ohio Valley also begin tournamant play tonight, but I'll be following the Big South and 2nd place finisher Birmingham Southern, not just because they happen to be the FFMD's alma mater, but because this team's rise to the top of the Big South is simply amazing. Birmingham Southern only became a Division 1 team last year (and in Year 1 won 20 ballgames, which is impressive, but were of course not eligible for the tourney in their first year in D1). In Year 2 they're already primed to topple perennial Big South champ Winthrop and storm into the NCAAs. The Big South (like the Horizon and Ohio Valley and a few others) plays the early round conference games on campus, creating a truly frenzied environment and rewarding the upper-echelon teams in the conference for season long excellence. A fantastic approach to rev up the madness if you ask me. Look for Winthrop and Birmingham Southern to meet in the Big South Final Sunday...and look for the Panthers (um, can I get an explanation on that nickname?) to avenge two earlier loses to Winthrop and continue their surprising D1 start by making the Dance, behind the solid play of 6'9" big man Thomas Viglianco...

America East
Albany Great Danes
18-10, 13-3
RPI 135
Speaking of schools making the jump to D1, Albany (formerly SUNY Albany and home to the worst college campus you'll ever see) just earned it's first-ever #1 seed in the America East Tournament, formerly OWNED by those lovable hippies of Vermont. No more Coppenrath, no more Catamounts dominance. The Great Danes (the merchandise sells surprisingly well, trust me) are 0-4 in the tournament since their jump to Division 1 four years ago, but they were the top team in the conference (they led the league in scoring at 68 ppg), and earned a first round bye. The will face the winner of Stony Brook/UMBC in a quarterfinal game Friday. What amazes me about this team is that after being a D3 powerhouse for many years under legendary coach Doc Sauers, Albany played the '99-'00 and '00-'01 seasons as an independent before jumping to the America East in '01-'02 and asbolutely sucked along the way. Local rival Siena (more on them in a moment), not to be confused with Duke or Kentucky, would pound them into submission yearly. Now Albany is a legit program with a very real chance of making the NCAA tournament in just their fourth year in D1 (though they did lose to Siena again this year). It's confusing to even type that. Kudos to Coach Will Brown and the Wilson brothers (no relation), Jamar and Brent. Check these two guys out, and just have a chuckle (have a chuckle too at the parents of Levi Levine for ruining his childhood). It's too bad former 5-7 JuCo transfer Earv "I'll be right back" Opong from Brooklyn is gone...he would've really liked this run...

Siena Saints
15-12, 10-8
RPI 118
Absolutely, no doubt, my favorite local team to root for. Ever since their 1989 upset of 3 seed Stanford, Siena gets a little pub nationally come tournament time (that was the first time in school history they had made the Dance). You might remember that Stanford team for having amphibious star Todd Lichti...but you also might remember that Siena team as the measles team and the team with no nickname (some idiots thought the nickname Indians was offensive...I'll tell you what, there are a ton of fine Native Americans hanging out at the Latham Circle Mall daily, and they had no beef). Siena of course lost their 2nd round game to Minnesota and the masked madman Wille Burton, but that's neither here nor there. The problem this year for Siena is that Iona and Manhattan are the cream of the crop in the MAAC, and it will take a little luck and some inspired play to pull off this tournament upset. What the Saints do have going for them...The MAAC tournament will once again be played in the cozy confines of Knickerbocker (I refuse to call it Pepsi) Arena, where, believe it or not, Siena can pack in a rambunctious crowd for these games. The fun starts in Sm-Albany Friday night...

The Madness is about to begin...and if there's one thing we do know, 16 days from now just about anything can happen:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

To Dream...the Impossible Dream

Tens of travel agents across the Eastern Seaboard sit on pins and needles this week, hoping against hope that the William and Mary Tribe reverses 300+ years of postseason basketball futility and runs the table at the 2006 Aeropostale Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament. Alumni like me and the assembled idiots that haunt this blog have pledged to travel to any godforsaken NCAA Tournament first-round venue should our beloved (bemusing?) Green and Gold hark upon the gale of the postseason promised land. Boise, Spokane, Gary, wherever - we're there...but only if a story more improbable than the Miracle on Ice is spun this weekend.

The 11th seeded Tribe take on 6th seed VCU in the CAA Tourney opener - the same VCU Rams that bludgeoned our heroes, 77-59, just yesterday and swept the season series. W&M finished another season in sadly typical fashion, carving out an 8-19 record, 3-15 in the surprisingly tough CAA. Only a sweep of doormat James Madison saved the season from utter ignominy - 2005-06 was merely moderately ignominious.

Friday offers the basketball-viewing public the salmon of Capistrano-like recurrence of the W&M playoff debacle. W&M is 6-23 all-time in CAA tournament play, but 4 of those wins came between 1983-88 (the Tribe's never won more than 1 game in the conference tourney). Since '88, the Green and Gold has authored a sparkling 2-17 tournament resume, which includes a win last year. Don't expect much to change on Friday in Richmond, despite the hopes of Tribe Nation - all 6 of us.

You'd be forgiven if you overlooked the CAA this year, but the nation's toughest mid-major conference has 4 teams currently in the top 49 in the much-hyped RPI rankings. George Mason (RPI #15), UNC-Wilmington (22), Hofstra (28), and Old Dominion (49) are all legitimately capable of reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Numerous pundits have disclaimed at length about Mason's likelihood of receiving an NCAA at-large bid should they fail to win the CAA Tournament, but I'm here to tell you that the Hofstra Pride have already punched their ticket too, going 4-1 against teams in the RPI Top 50 and in the midst of the NCAA's 2nd longest home winning streak (20 games, behind only Gonzaga's 36). As stunning as this is to type, if someone other than Hofstra or Mason wins the tournament this weekend, I think the CAA will get 3 teams in the Big Dance - something that's never happened. And it'll be legitimate.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Food Network broadcast.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A GTB First

On this drab and dreary Wednesday, GTB is happy to present not only the first post from a non-GTB contributor (great timing because I've got nothing today), but the first food-focused post ever (I think, I'm in no way going to check through the "archives"). Without further ado, GTB presents...

Sonny's BBQ Review (take a wild guess what part of the country "Sonny" is from) ...
If you ever find yourself traveling through the mid-south, and have a hankering for some good pork let my taste buds be your guide...

Memphis, TN
Featured often on cable television travel and food shows, the Rendezvous is one of Memphis’ and America’s most famous rib joints. What is the Rendezvous’ secret? Really there is no secret. They prepare their ribs in the true Memphis style: dry as a bone. The ribs are covered in a dry rub placed lovingly in a charcoal smoker. The atmosphere of Rendezvous is fantastic. As long as you’re not with a very large group, you’ll be seated quickly. The service is impeccable. You’ll likely be served by an old black man, probably a lot like the one your grandfather used to go fishing with on Saturdays. Rumor has it that most of these gentlemen have been working there for decades and make more money than you do, but I digress. Rendezvous is famous for its ribs not its waiters. The ribs can range anywhere from delicious to tough. Sometimes the ribs are kept at the bottom of the smoker for a little too long and get tougher than boot leather. The beans are of the cold variety, and the cole slaw isn’t quite up to snuff. If you’re in Memphis, you have to stop by the ‘Vous if for no other reason than to say you’ve had BBQ in a Memphis alley, but you’ll find a much better plate elsewhere in town.

Pig Pit Barbecue
Arkadelphia, AR
This is one of several places that you will have never heard of as of my writing this, but if you ever stop there you’ll be glad that you did. The Pig Pit is a no frills, no faults joint. Before you venture there I suggest you take up smoking, and not just a cigarette or two a day, I’m talking about two pack-a-day; cancer cranking; teeth yellowing smoking… you’ll need to be able to handle lots of this kind of smoking when you walk through the door of the Pig Pit. Once you’ve passed through the smoky force field and find your way to the tables (the ones that advertise local businesses on the table tops) you’ll be prepared for some of the finest BBQ sandwiches in southwest Arkansas. The waitress is that pseudo-hot, slutty girl you went to college with. You know the one, she was always banging the skater guy that lived down the hall from you in the dorm. Yeah, her… they kept you awake all night at least once a week. Now she’s taking your drink order, and maybe just maybe she has that look in her eye when she asks you if you want hot or mild sauce on your que. Once again you’re reminded why sluts are hot… because they are sluts. Anyway, the chopped pork sandwich is good here: very large and very juicy. The beans are decent, and the cole slaw is a nice compliment to this better than average sandwich. The sweet tea is to die for, and served in an environment smacking Styrofoam cup. You’ll get out for less than $10 no matter what you order. Hey, and when you stop by tell the waitress that Sonny, that lived down the hall from “Chaz”, says hello.

Sims Barbecue
Little Rock, AR
How much do you like barbecue? Do you like it in the way that you might order ribs at the Chili’s in suburbia, or do you like barbecue so much that you will swim the river, crawl naked through a briar patch before going down a razor blade lined water slide into water that has so much Morton’s salt pored in, it makes McDonald’s french fries look bland? If you like barbecue this much Sims in Little Rock is for you. It’s located right off Main Street in southern Little Rock, now this probably isn’t a big deal to you unless you remember that old HBO special “Gang Bangin’ in Little Rock,” which was basically filmed in the Sims parking lot. All the 40’s that they poured out for their homies in “Bangin’,” were bought with their chopped pork sandwich from Sims. Why? Because 40’s are all they have to drink there besides rancid tap water. At Sims they use a vinegar based sauce which is an interesting choice for a joint in the mid south where if you use sauce at all it’s typically molasses based. The meat is chopped rather than pulled, but it is very moist and delicious. Sims is a can’t miss for a those looking to experiment with different tastes in southern barbecue. But for heaven’s sake don’t go after dark.

Neely’s Interstate Barbecue
Memphis, TN
This is the place where professionals go to eat, and when I say professionals I don’t mean guys who wear suits, work in tall buildings, and spend hours upon hours in airports. (However, you can eat with Jim Neely if you’re ever in the Memphis Airport) When I say professionals I mean the guys who have smokers on trailers who travel around all spring and summer to different towns to barbecue in competition. Furthermore Neely’s offers the widest menu of any of the aforementioned restaurants. They barbecue spaghetti, hot dogs, sausage, pork butts, ribs, hell they could probably barbecue old man Neely’s leather boots and they would taste great. Neely’s is truly the BBQ palace of the Mid South. If you ever make it to Memphis, make sure you stop by.

Whole Hog Café
Little Rock, AR
Ah, the Whole Hog, quite possibly Arkansas’ finest BBQ establishment. It’s owned and operated by a group known as the “League of Southern Gentlemen.” How do I know this? Because in 2002 The League won best ribs at the World Championship BBQ cookoff at Memphis in May, The Super Bowl and Daytona 500 of the BBQ world. Come for the ribs, stay for the sauce. The Hog offers 6 different types of sauce featuring 4 different styles of BBQ conveniently placed at each table. You can sample the Carolina Mustard Sauce, the Brown Vinegar Sauce, or the more standard area Molasses Sauce. Furthermore, some of Arkansas’s elite frequent the hog for lunch. From Rockefellers to Rockettes most everyone in Arkansas agrees that Whole Hog serves some of Little Rock’s finest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Can we at least go back to "Senators" then?

In what should come as a surprise to no one, MLB and the Washington Nationals have run into yet another problem with their DC franchise. Is it the lack of an owner? Nah, they'll hammer that out by 2010. Is it the ongoing stadium drama, starring Councilman for Life Marion "Crack" Barry (seen at the right "campaigning")? Nope, they'll just play on the Mall if they have to. The newest dilemma for the Nats?

They can't be the Nationals anymore. OK, correction, they can be the Nationals, but they just can't sell any merchandise with that name on it. As those Guinness guys say, "Brilliant". Once again MLB has pressed the big red button.

A Cincinnati company named Bygone Sports was granted a trademark last week on the name Washington Nationals. Hmmm, will that be a problem MLB? Bygone applied for the trademark in 2002, and it's not like MLB wasn't aware of this. MLB's executive VP John McHale Jr.'s response to this news:

"We believe we own the name and the rights."

OK, that's good. And why does he believe that? Because Bygone and MLB apparently had an oral agreement in place. Let me just get this straight - You are (finally) bringing a franchise back to DC, a process that could be termed arduous at best, and you couldn't manage to draft an actual document to secure the proposed name of the franchise? I mean, how mind-numbingly stupid are these people?

[Thanks to BenMaller.com for the heads up.]

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Hello! l'm Curt Gowdy...

along with Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dr. Joyce Brothers..."
Curt Gowdy (July 31, 1919 - February 20, 2006)
GTB would like to take a moment to honor a broadcasting legend, Mr. Curt Gowdy, who died today at the age of 86 from leukemia. In addition to anchoring the greatest announcing booth in movie history, Gowdy is famous for being the "voice of the Red Sox" and the "broadcaster of everything". Gowdy worked for all three of the major networks in his career, and his resume includes 13 World Series, 16 baseball All-Star Games, 9 Super Bowls, 14 Rose Bowls, 8 Olympics and 24 Final Fours. He won every broadcasting award there is to win, and the Basketball Hall of Fame even created the Curt Gowdy Award in his honor, given annually to outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters. Here's hoping The Cowboy is calling a game right now...

Happy Presidents' Day

"You crossed the line. People trusted you and they died. You gotta' go down."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What Would Brian Boitano Do?

What would Brian Boitano do
If he was here right now,
He'd make a plan
And he'd follow through,
That's what Brian Boitano'd do...

Apparently, that plan is to write shorter, less entertaining columnettes than Anthony Kornheiser. The NBCOlympics.com Torino Tracker Blog is a source of much entertainment, highlighted by the hard-hitting journalism of Mr. Boitano. Brian lets us know that Yevgeny Plushenko (who?) need not worry about a Plan B in the short program, Chinese skater Zhang Dan is one tough (fortune) cookie and that in Torino "Shoppers were as aggressive about buying souvenirs as the athletes are about winning medals" (yeah, that makes sense). USA Today's Craig Wilson could've provided me with this fluff. Gold-Medal Blogger my ass...

So what would Brian Boitano do
If he were here today,
I'm sure he'd kick an ass or two,
That's what Brian Boitano'd do...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

College Hoops 'til the cows come home...

We begin today with Happy Valentines Day wishes from the Dean of Dipsy-doo Dunk-a-roos himself, Mr. Dick Vitale. Dickie V, you look great, but Brian Davis realllly wants his uniform back...

OK, enough fun at Dick's (and Duke's) expense, college hoops season is in full swing, and there is no lack of material. I am extremely scatterbrained today, so bear with me as we mock teams, coaches and players alike...

Let's start with whiny-ass Mike Davis at Indiana. WTF man? Why don't you bitch a little bit more? Why the hell haven't I seen a press conference to fire this guy after this gem:
"Indiana needs to have one of their own. They need to have somebody that's played here so they can embrace him. They need that."
OK, Mike, is that you quitting officially, or just completely giving up publicly and then expecting to still coach your team for the rest of the season? Even Vince Carter is embarrassed by this...the best I can tell, Mike Davis thinks the prime candidate to replace him (FIRE HIM ALREADY!) only need resemble the immortal words of one Mr. Thomas Earl Petty:
He grew up in an Indiana town,
Had a good lookin momma who never was around,
But he grew up tall and he grew up right,
With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night

At least Mike Davis isn't on the Miller Lite Party Bus with Eddie Sutton, Bobby Huggins and Larry Eustachy. Not only does Okie State blow this year, their legendary coach is now driving around Stillwater like Diana Ross after 3 cosmos. The best part of this story - Sutton apparently fell down in the parking lot and hit his head BEFORE popping some Rush Limbaugh specials, washing them down with some suds and hoping in his ride. Perhaps the ambulance guys who checked on ole Eddie might've suggested he not drive anywhere? Hmmm, maybe that's a good idea? As far as his team on the court, JamesOn Curry ran around last night like he's never played a game of organized basketball in his life. I counted three separate times in the 2nd half where Curry drove so recklessly to the basket that he ran full speed into the padded base of the basket (never even coming close to making the basket, let alone passing to a teammate). Sean Sutton might as well give up now...though interestingly enough I heard Eddie will get credit for all the games Sean coaches. Now there's a cheap ass way to get to 800 victories...if they ever win again.

Hey, Joe Lunardi, get the fuck off my TV screen already. Last night on the 6pm SportsCenter, I've got Mr. Bracketology telling me who the 1-4 seeds will be in each region. It's February 13th for chrissakes. Most teams have 5/6 conference games left AND a conference tourney to worry about. And Joe's telling me who the 4 seed in the Chocolate City bracket is going to be. Shame on you too Jay Bilas for participating in this fiasco, even going so far as to make upset predictions as if these were really the brackets. I know SportsCenter gets ripped enough already, and it's my fault for watching it, but this was waaaaaay over the top. And one other thing, has anyone ever seen Joe Lunardi and Marc Stein in the same room together?

Mike Nardi, that was possibly the dumbest play I've seen in years last night. In case you missed the phenomenal UConn/Villanova game last night, Nardi ends up wide open 2 feet from the basket with 15 seconds to play, and instead of making the layup, giving Nova a 5 point lead, Nardi dribbles to the sideline and gets fouled. If UConn sends that game into overtime, 'lil Eminem Nardi is getting pistol whipped by Curtis Sumpter postgame.

Adios Quin Snyder. Weekend at Bernie's 3 needs you more than Missouri does. Soldier on young man, soldier on. Speaking of former Duke assistants, Tommy Amaker might want to make the tourney this year...just a thought...

Just for fun (and this has absolutely nothing to do with college hoops) here is GTB's contribution to the whole Winter Olympics conversation:

Happy Valentines Day

"It says 'I Choo-choo-choose You,' and there's a picture of a train!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Be very very quiet, I'm hunting Quayle...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally wounded a companion with shotgun pellets on a weekend quail hunt in Texas, his office said on Sunday.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fun with Pictures, sponsored by Omni Consumer Products

Welcome to Detroit, home of Super Bowl XL. What good does it do to discuss meaningless pre-game storylines when I can clumsily mix Paul Verhoeven’s classic with the Big Game. Robocop is an underrated classic, a film so graphic that I hide to hightail my 11 year-old ass out of the theater after Murphy’s hand got blown off because I thought I was gonna puke…let it be noted I threw water in my face and hustled back into the theater missing but a minute or two. But enough about my troubled childhood…

Robocop (Officer Alex Murphy), aka Matt Hasselbeck

Yeah, I’m going with Hasselbeck over Big Ben, because I truly believe the Seahawks are going to win this game, so he gets to be the hero (and initially the victim of much violence by a fired up Steelers defense). It also doesn’t hurt that both guys are bald, dry in the humor department and extremely good at what they do – the oft-dismissed Hasselbeck was the 4th highest-rated passer in the league (1st in the NFC) and also threw for the 4th most TDs. The toughest part for Hasselbeck will be the new play-calling directives given to him by the coaching staff:

1. Serve the Public Trust

2. Protect the Innocent

3. Uphold the Law

Once he adjusts, watch out Old Detroit…and when the wreckage is clear, you can bet your ass we’ll see Matty on “The View”.

Dick Jones, aka Jerome Bettis

Second in command at OCP, slimy corporate executive Dick Jones is the creator of the ED-209, a precursor and competitive product to Robocop. Unfortunately for Dick, his product is a tad bit faulty. Jones’ employer, OCP, is an unethical corporate giant who also just happens to own the police force (not unlike a certain RB who seems to own the media these days). I know, I know, Dick Jones is a big, smug prick and Jerome Bettis is the loveable, feel good story of the Super Bowl. You know what, blame the media, because I officially hate Jerome Bettis. The last straw was Bettis getting the key to the city the other day. I get it, he’s from Detroit, he’s a hometown hero, but do we all really care this much (and yes, Saddam also got a key to Detroit). I don’t want to hate Jerome this much, but whaddya gonna do…someone has to flourish in the role of Dick Jones. Sayeth Dick, “You know what the tragedy here is Jerome? We could have been friends.”

Clarence Boddicker, aka Bill Cowher

Long before he was the curmudgeonly father on “That 70s Show”, Kurtwood Smith excelled in Robocop as an intelligent and completely insane bad guy. Yet there were definitely times in the movie where you thought, “Hey, he isn’t so bad”. Much like Boddicker and Jones, Cowher and Bettis are forever linked, through the good, and the inevitable bad that will take place Sunday (they also need to be linked for the sake of this contrived post). Cowher looks the role of movie villain, and to top it off, he may or may not have wanted to fire the bus company that took the Steelers from the airport to the hotel Monday, though the team denies it (not quite the same as blowing a man’s hand off, but work with me people). I’m buying that rumor for a dollar.

Bob Morton, aka Ken Whisenhunt

Bob Morton was the man with the (alternative) plan - Robocop was his idea, and he had no qualms fucking over Dick Jones in the process (which in retrospect was a very bad idea – if only he had listened to his Greg Gumbel-esque colleague). Whisenhunt, like Bob Morton, is the shifty idea guy – just look at Ken try to get three QBs on the field at one time. Well, sorry Kenny, but I say the two weeks of prep for the Seattle defense means you and your gadget plays are going down just like Bob. Too bad you won't have his coke and strippers to dull the pain.

ED-209, aka Joey Porter

I mean, is there any other choice? When I think methodical, emotionless killer, I immediately think Joey Porter. Just think what would have happened if Joey malfunctioned during media day. Jerramy Stevens would have ceased to exist. Joey Porter’s so crazy he thinks Moviefone is talking shit to him. Tell me he wouldn’t have done the same damage in the boardroom as ED-209…"Please put down the football…you have 20 seconds to comply”...just ask Peyton Manning. Win or lose, Porter-209 will be leaving carnage on the field Sunday night.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

GTB Fan of the Day

"I'm expressin' with my full capabilities...and now I'm livin' in correctional facilities..."