Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I think TR meant to post this...

I think Z-Man meant to post this...

Yes, I'm in the tank for Jack White and his guitar skills....but he's the eff-ing drummer here, people (and a terrible shot apparently).

A Little Red Velvet from G:TB's Cultural Attaché

As I enter middle age, I've started to draw some generalized conclusions about the world based on my decades of accumulated wisdom. Such as: some things are better experienced live. Like pro sports. I enjoy pro sports much more when I'm there, in the flesh, watching the game unfold while sitting cheek by jowl with the great unwashed (e.g., TR). I think it's because I've seen everything that could happen, happen. Maybe some things just don't hold my attention in two dimensions anymore. For instance, regular season baseball is almost unwatchable on TV at this point in my life.

Music is better live too, at least for some bands or genres. I never sit down and listen to classical music at home, but I used to take advantage of free tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra with some regularity.

Sex is better live too. As opposed to a magazine or movie. I mean with a live woman. I never did it with a dead woman. And I mean being the person having the sex with the live woman. Not watching someone else be the person. I never did that either.

I guess I just really appreciate being there experiencing someone do their thing at a very high level, regardless of what their thing is.

Another conclusion: New York City is a preposterous place to live. Taxes are insane. Housing is offensively expensive. Groceries are stupidly dear. I can't find a decent barber. Getting east-west is nearly impossible. But the food is fantastic. And there are plenty of opportunities to watch live sports and live music.

You may have reached some of these conclusions on your own. But you likely haven't synthesized them into one idea for a weekend outing. I have. Combine NYC with an interest in live entertainment, and a live-in ladyfriend, and blammo: Broadway. It turns out that watching really good actors live is better than watching them on your TV or a movie screen.

I'm sure you'll say this is corny, cheesey, or some other pejorative food analogy. I even expect a ghey call or two. I don't care. The Z-woman and I go every other month or so and it's fun. I saw "A Behanding in Spokane" this weekend. It features Sam Rockwell, the guy Morgan Freeman beat up in "Million Dollar Baby," and some little blonde girl with disarmingly big feet. It's a dark comedy about a guy who had his hand cut off and who now wanders the country looking for it.

Christopher Walken plays the lead. He is hands down (get it?) the eeriest guy in the world. He was 100 feet away from me and I was still skeeved out by him. I knew it was a comedy going in, so I laughed at a lot of his creepy shit. Remember his maniacally funny soliloquies from "Pulp Fiction" and "True Romance"? He had about five of those. And his insulting repartees from "Biloxie Blues"? He had two or three of those too. No one can be as simultaneously funny and discomforting as Walken. But if you walked in off the street and didn't know it was a comedy, you'd find his character scary as hell, like Nick at the end of "The Deer Hunter." Dude's a freak. An incredibly gifted actor, but a freak nonetheless.

I encourage you to get out and watch people do something that they are really good at and that's fun and impressive to behold: go check out some live theater. I don't like musicals, but if you went to one you could combine live acting and live music, and your lady will probably dig it so you might end up making real live love. The trifecta! Or roll like me, avoid the troika and look for actors you like in regular plays with no singing and dancing. And then on the ride home when your lady says "That was really great, I had no idea you were so cultured" you can say "Babygirl, my shit is deeper than Atlantis" and then turn up the volume on your Whitefield Brothers CD, and unless she reads this blog she'll think she has herself a true man of the world.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This is Like the Apex of the Vortex....

...just not the apex of the vortex of joint technology. It's the apex of the vortex of the British soccer season for the Big Three clubs in the EPL. Heading into the last six weeks of the season, Manchester United and Chelsea (and, to a lesser extent, Arsenal) are embroiled in a tight race, with the top two teams separated by one point in the standings and Arsenal four back of the lead. Man U and Chelsea have battled each other for the lead all season, while Arsenal pulled off an improbable rally in February and March to climb back in the mix. After a scoreless tie against Aston Villa on January 27th, followed up with a crushing 3-1 loss to Man U on January 31st, Arsenal ripped off six consecutive wins to make up some ground while the other two clubs had minor stumbles. However, they had a poor showing last weekend in a 1-1 tie with Birmingham city and now will need a lot of help if they want to win the league title.

The fates of these three teams will be determined in large part by the events this Saturday. At 7:45 AM, you can point your rabbit ears over to ESPN2 to watch Man U host Chelsea at Old Trafford. A Man U win should make them almost impossible to beat, as they will have only five games left, most against weaker EPL opponents. A Chelsea win puts them in the driver's seat with a two-point lead, while a tie opens up the door for Arsenal, who should be able to dispatch a shaky Wolverhampton squad. In the event of a Man U-Chelsea tie and an Arsenal win, Man U would have 73 points, Chelsea would have 72 and Arsenal would have 71. In this event, look for the fourth-place Tottenham Hotspurs to be a spoiler. They play Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U in three consecutive weeks in mid-April.

But this weekend's slate of matches is merely a portion of the red hot footie action over the next eight days. In addition to EPL matches, Man U and Arsenal both remain active in Champions League play, although Chelsea spit the bit against Inter Milan early last week and was eliminated. We've got a flurry of big Champions League matches starting today. Man U starts a brutal eight-day stretch. The team travels to Germany to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League today, in the first of a two-match series. The team then returns home to Old Trafford for the Chelsea tilt in four days and remains at home to host Bayern Munich three days later. That's three very difficult matches in two countries in eight days. Not an easy task for any squad, let alone a veteran team.

There are three reasons for Red Devils fans to be optimistic. First, Bayern has lost two straight Bundesliga matches and has gone 1-2-1 in its last four to fall out of first place. Second, Man U was able to rest a lot of its firepower in last week's romp over the official team of The Teej, the (Michael) Bolton Wanderers, as Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ji-Sung Park all sat out in the win. Third, last week's win saw the return of injured young striker Federico Macheda, who shows flashes of both Cristiano Ronaldo's artful footwork and John Terry's legendary libido. Macheda, pictured above, was born in August 1991. Commence feeling old now.

There are additional quarterfinal Champions League games today and tomorrow. The Bayern-Man U game is being shown on delay on Fox Soccer Channel tonight, but those of us with work colleagues on the road will be darting raindrops en route to a pub for the 2:45 PM ET start.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Malaise

rob left me in charge today (perhaps even all week), but I'm just not feeling it on this rainy/cold/dreary day. So I asked Reverend Run, the D.M.C. and (from beyond the grave) Jam-Master Jay to help me get through this afternoon*:

*Wow, nice Larry "Bud" Melman cameo...

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Living in Compton California CA

His Uzi up yo ass if he don't get paid..."

Sadly, fifteen years ago today Eric Lynn Wright, better known as rapper Eazy-E, passed away. I figured we had enough of the Tauntaun sleeping bag and instead could use some Eazy-E (and friends) prior to tonight's hoops action. Enjoy...but as you might recall, Mr. Wright and Co. use some "colorful" language, so try not to get fired listening to this.

You are looking the ice planet of Hoth

In case you didn't know, my birthday is coming up (I will be a spry 34, my liver will be a Mantle-esque 69) so I thought I'd help you all out before you hit the malls to find me a gift. It's real simple. I want the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag.

I was already quite excited for this item, then I read this: This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, printed internal intestines, and a plush lightsaber zipper pull.

Printed internal intestines? Yes please. And according to the Prodcut Features, it also "simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass". Can it get any better?

Maybe you should buy me more than one.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Electing Herb Pope

I was originally going to put together a post for the first couple days of the tournament. Then I started drinking with my Dad at 10 am on St. Patrick’s Day. Then I decided it would be a good idea to eschew my mid-afternoon drunken nap and meet up with some of my degenerate friends (Ask Greg about these people, I’m the most responsible and respectable person among this group of friends…by a WIDE margin) for more drinking. And then I was in bed by 7:45 pm on St. Patrick’s Day. All in all, it was a great day. Just not a day that was very conducive to getting anything productive done. So, with that in mind, here’s my take on the NCAA Tournament so far as well as some thoughts on the upcoming slate of games.

- I've said it in the comments before, but take a look at Tennessee PG Bobby Maze when he's at the foul line tonight. I've never, ever seen a high level athlete who wanted to be another athlete so badly (save for Kobe Bryant). Maze dribbles like Allen Iverson, wears his hair like Iverson. He even has multiple tattoos that are identical to Iverson. It's kind of creepy.

- It’s no secret that I’m in the bag for Ali Farokmanesh, but just in case you aren’t, here’s something you might not know about him that should (repeat, should) make you love him more: He used to babysit Idaho Football Coach Rob Akey's kids in Washington. G:TB obtained a copy of the list of requirements to submit an application to babysit Rob Akey’s kids. There was only one requirement: BIG BALLS.

- While we’re on the subject of juevos, there is something that’s really bothered me since Saturday night. The notion that the shot by Farokmanesh that effectively sealed the Kansas game, was a terrible shot. Ummm, no. It wasn’t. I understand why people are saying that (time and score), but ask yourself this question: If Farokmanesh pulls the ball out and Northern Iowa sets up their offense, are they getting a better and/or more wide open shot than what Farokmanesh had? I say no. In fact, with the way Kansas had turned up the heat defensively (and the way Northern Iowa’s poise seemed to be melting away), there’s a very real chance that Northern Iowa wouldn’t have gotten a shot off at all. Was it a ballsy shot? For sure. A bad shot? Nope.

(One more thing: The shot that Farokmanesh hit to beat UNLV was a tougher, more pressure packed shot than the clincher versus Kansas. The shot against UNLV came with under 6 seconds left, the scored tied and UNLV’s defense set. The shot against Kansas looks better/tougher because of who it helped beat.)

- Speaking of NCAA Tourney stars whose names most people can’t correctly pronounce, maybe it’s time for all those people who killed Joakim Noah’s game during Florida’s second tournament championship run to acknowledge how unbelievably, totally and completely wrong they were about him. If you re-did that draft today he definitely goes in the top 5 and probably the top 3. Say what you want about him personally but the guy is already one of the league’s top rebounders, plays hard every night, does all the little things and is a proven winner. There was a point when people compared his game to Anderson Varejao (and it wasn’t really that far off). Other than hairstyle, I don’t think we can make those comparisons anymore. Noah could be a starter on a championship team. Shit, Noah may even make an All-Star game or two before it's all said and done. Neither of those are ever happening for Varejao, certainly not without LeBron involved.

- This has been a great tourney. One of the best that I can remember. But TJ’s right, a few more nut punches would really put it over the top.

- You know what’s going to be a great game? When Greivis Vasquez and Sherron Collins’ teams face off in the Spanish League Playoffs next year.

- With all the upsets during the first two rounds, there’s been a lot of talk about how the NBA’s age limit rule has changed the college game and the dynamics of the tournament. This is true. However, the effect of this rule that I find more interesting is the long term effect its had on a number of so-called mid-major programs(Butler, Xavier, Gonzaga...even Vanderbilt (technically not a mid-major but definitely not your typical power conference school). What we are starting to see with many of these mid-majors is a run of continued excellence, not only in their conference but also out of conference and in the tournament that establishes them nationally.

These teams are building sustainable programs by using their national success to gain greater exposure to recruits (where before they could only recruit regionally, at best) which allows them access to a wider range and higher level of recruit than in ever before. And while these recruits are higher level recruits than these schools once attracted, they are still the kinds of kids who are going to be in school for 4 years. This allows coaches to mesh young talent with experienced talent and (in the cases of Butler and Xavier) while incorporating their systems which only serves to further raise the profile of their program through consistent tournament success. This sustained success then leads to the ability to create a brand for their programs in much the same way high-major schools like Duke, Kansas and North Carolina have created brands for their programs. Gonzaga built their brand prior to the age limit rule but both Butler and Xavier have seen a significant boost to their programs in the 3 years since the NBA's age limit was instituted. This model is obviously still in its infancy but we could eventually see a school like Butler, Xavier or even a CAA school use this model to build their program past the level of high-mid major (I need a better name for these programs) and up to the point where their program joins the nation's elite. While this will take many years, and some luck, its a real possibility in basketball due to the relatively small amount of money needed to run a successful, high level program as well the low number of players involved.

One potential offshoot of this model: With the current model in place, one could make the case that's its best for a mid-major coach to stay at his school for the long term (10+ years) and build a brand for his program before (maybe) taking a high profile job at an established basketball power, as opposed to taking the first high major job that comes along because, as we've seen with Dan Monson (Gonzaga to Minnesota) and Todd Lickliter (Butler to Iowa), if they end up at a school that struggles to meet the administration's expectations then the coach will end up fired and working back at a mid-major school with 4-5 years. Only now, they've downgraded to a downtrodden mid-major school and are left with an even bigger rebuilding project then they ever had at their original school.

- Now, that The Wire has been off the air for so long, it’s just nice to have a guy named Omar back in my life.

- Did you see Hoop Dreams? If you did, you no doubt remember William Gates’ prick of a high school coach, Gene Pingatore. Yeah, well, he’s still coaching. In fact, he coached Evan Turner (and Demetri McCamey) in high school. Is it just me or did that guy look like he was in his 60s during Hoop Dreams (which was filmed almost 15 years ago)? Does he prowl the sidelines with a walker now? Or is it just his cryogenically frozen head propped on the scorer’s table?

- Is Ekpe really any more of a name than LaceDarius? And while I'm talking about Baylor, how can you not root for a team whose backcourt consists of a Tweedy and a LaceDarius?

- There's a popular sentiment that the Carrier Dome is going to be overrun with Cornell fans tonight due to the close proximity of Syracuse and Ithaca, therefore giving Cornell a huge homecourt advantage over Kentucky. I couldn't disagree more. Kentucky fans travel. I mean really, really travel. Like midwestern College Football fans travel to warm weather bowl games. Additionally, I don't get the feeling that the majority of Cornell alums still reside in upstate New York. Certainly not enough to paint the Carrier Dome red tonight. I think you're going to see more blue in the crowd tonight and, at least in the early going, are going to see the Kentucky faithful make their presence felt in a very real way. Listen, I hate Kentucky's irrational, mouth breathing, hillbilly fanbase as much as anybody, but I also respect their irrationality and dedication. The only way that Cornell's going to gain a homecourt advantage tonight is if Big Red can keep it close late and get the neutral fans to get behind them down the stretch.

- Obviously, I love the first weekend of the tournament. Everybody does. It's a basketball orgy. However, if I'm being truly honest with myself I'd have to admit that the second weekend of the tournament is better. The teams are better, the stakes are higher and, ultimately, the games are more memorable. Sure, there are memorable moments during the first two rounds but the truly memorable games (Nova-Pitt last year, UConn-Washington '96, Duke-Kentucky '92 and many, many more) come from the Regional Semifinals and Finals. In fact, during Florida's back-to-back title runs the moment I remember most comes from the regional semifinals during their first title chase.

(I couldn't find just the clip of the shot so you're getting a 2006 NCAA Tournament/Florida highlight video. The shot appears at about the 1:19 mark. Well, not the shot but the aftermath of the shot...Noah's reaction to the shot. You'll have take my word for it, it was a great game changing shot. TJ and I looked everywhere for it with no luck. We did find a bag of farokmanesh I thought my dog ate though.)

- Finally, we finish off in the only appropriate way I could think of. With the All G:TB Team, of course.

G: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State - Awesome beard (not as good as mine) and he looks just like the guy having a picnic with his girlfriend from the Miller Lite commercial that's been running all tournament long.

G: Ali Farokmanesh, Northern Iowa
- Big balls, fun name, breakout star of the tourney so far.

G: Joe Mazzulla, West Virginia - Murdered Duke two years ago in the tourney, suddenly thrust into the spotlight with the injury to Daryl Bryant and (this is important) he's basically got the same last name (save for one vowel) as my fiancee which allows me to make any number of inappropriate jokes about her and her Italian ancestry.

F: Chris Kramer, Purdue - Because he told me he'd kick my ass if I didn't put him on the All G:TB team.

C: Omar Samham, St. Mary's - He's half Egyptian and half Irish. He used to be a fat kid and he plays basketball in low tops just like me. Need I say more?

I present to you...Rave Truck!!!

Courtesy of the newly discovered website Urlesque, I happily present to you this morning the Rave Truck. As opposed to all the other videos I throw up here, I strongly urge you to actually watch this one. It's freakin' awesome.

projection animation test from reanimatr on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Public Service Announcement

We've been one of the internet's leaders in tracking the menace lurking in the Swiss countryside. Frankly, we're concerned that not enough of you are listening. Hear me when I tell you that the large hadron collider is still lurking, and this week it announced its intent in clear terms.

The Large Hadron Collider set a new record for the creation of energetic particle beams this morning. The particle accelerator, which surpassed Fermilab’s Tevatron in December as the baddest atom smasher of them all, smashed its own record, charging particles to 3.48 trillion electron volts.
"Energetic particle beams", people. "The baddest atom smasher of them all." This makes Sarah Palin's death panels look like a frolic in the local wolf-shooting helicopter park. How the nutbag right and Dennis Kucinich haven't been whipped into a righteous froth about this issue completely blows my mind.

Remain calm, ladies and gentlemen, but remain diligent. Our very survival may depend upon it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dave bumps Dave

Sorry to bump such a great video, Past Dave, but Future Dave is a self-centered jackass, and he'd prefer that people watch his ghetto Rube Goldberg contraption rather than the professional one created by OK Go. And credit where it is due: Alex set up the upstairs train and built the card house, and Ian collected all the vehicles.

Also, this video is so much more G:TB than the good one.

What do Rube Goldberg and State Farm Have in Common?

Sorry to bump you, Teej, but this is not a cover song and it does have a basketball hoop in it. Plus, ten minutes are up. And this video is amazing; if you haven't seen it yet, watch it.

If you have and judging by the numbers, quite a few people have, then the question is: what is the effect of the overt State Farm Insurance product placement? Though I loved the video, this question was gnawing at my brain while I watched it (which is probably just what State Farm wants).

Am I supposed to wondering: what if this happens to my house? And then go buy some insurance? Or am I supposed to believe, that like a good neighbor, State Farm is there when a pop band needs some bank so they can make a concept video? What is their angle? It's got to be the idea of things going wrong, though the video is all about things going right, but perhaps it is just the threat of things going wrong that pleases State Farm. Anyway, it is safe for work and quite impressive.

Ten Minutes with the Teej...

...and I just wasted 30 seconds of it thinking of that witty title. Whitney seems to be amused by what really annoys me, or grinds my gears in the parlance of Peter Griffin, so I'll see if I can make his day and mention how much cover songs piss me off. Van Morrison's Wild Nights is a great tune...but thanks to John Cougar Mellencamp [Greg, do your joke here] and that chick with an even weirder name than Erika Badu we get that crap ass version all the time. Hell, I hate to say it, when I was a kid that Club Nouveau version of Lean On Me was da bomb, but come on now, Bill Withers pisses on Club Nouveau. Cover songs are the devil.

Monta Ellis had 35 or so last night. Monta Ellis shot 9 for 27. Monta Ellis might have a problem. And, oh yeah, the Warriors gave up 133 points last night (though they did score 131).

Ten minutes might even be too long...perhaps next time we do this (2012?) I cut it to five.

I can't quite tell if me wholeheartedly accepting "the Teej" is Jeff Goldblum from "The Fly" or that dude in "District 9".

I know everyone loves the Eddie Murphy "Party All the Time" video as most absurd display of ego ever, but Don Johnson's "Heartbeat" is ten times worse. I mean, come on, he was a Big Lots compared to Eddie's Nordstrom. Both those videos by the way have been featured here on G:TB.

So, can I expect McDonald's to give me one more epic Filet 'o Fish ad for next year's Lent/March Madness? (now there's a tournament for you)

OK, sorry folks, my time here is done.

*Ten Minutes with the Teej promises no spell-checking, grammar-checking or fact-checking. That's right, I didn't use the google once for this. Even to find images. Or tubes of You.

Gift for TR

Via Andrew Sullivan, an iPhone app that's a must-have for Team G:TB. Even if you don't have an iPhone:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dr. Strangehoops, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 96-Team NCAA Basketball Tournament

Depending on the media outlet, the NCAA's plan to expand the Men's Basketball Tournament from 65 to 96 teams falls somewhere on the certainty spectrum from 'done deal' to 'pretty much done deal'. All that's left are the details and timing.

As is my wont, my initial Costasian reaction to this news was disgust, followed by anger that mellowed to exasperation. But then my lizard brain gave way to the part of the mind that actually, y'know, thinks about things.

The NCAA exists to generate revenue for its member organizations. Sure, it runs championships and enforces standards, but it's primarily a sports cartel. Once you've accepted that premise, any notions of the importance of tradition in the NCAA's decision-making process are rendered nothing more than quaintly wishful thinking. While we traffic frequently in such magical realism, this is a case where the cold logic of the almighty dollar is crystal clear.

According to CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager, the annual Men's Basketball Championship generates 98% of the NCAA's operating revenues. While I find that number hard to believe, I suspect that Mr. Yeager may have a better sense of the facts. Adding 32 more games to the tournament (and, if reports are accurate, bringing ESPN along to television those early-round games) would generate a shitload of incremental revenue, roughly speaking. Game, set, mint.

So, to paraphrase one of Bob Knight's more neanderthal public pronouncements, if it's going to happen, we might as well enjoy the benefits a 96-team tourney will bring us.

Michael Litos at CAA: Life as a Mid-Major estimates that the increased revenue will allow mid-majors to increase their basketball budgets by a significantly greater percentage than their high-major counterparts. Sure, the big guys will enjoy more incremental revenue, but as Litos opines, "...I personally have no problem with a major conference school’s budget going from $60 million to $70 million if the budgets of CAA schools move from $1.5 million to $3 million."

Beyond the financial considerations, a 96-team tournament would feature at least 2-3 CAA teams every year. This year, instead of hoping against hope for a miraculous at-large bid for William & Mary, the CAA would have placed the Tribe and Northeastern in a 96-team field. In an important corollary to this line of thinking, the chance for W&M to get in to the tournament in any given year would go up considerably. As a beggar in this area, I'm okay with swallowing my pride so long as it means I get a weekend trip with my friends to Buffalo to watch the Wrens play in a first-round 16 vs. 17 matchup.

Finally, this weekend's wall-to-wall thrill ride makes an even better argument for a 96-team event. 32 more games bring 32 more chances for Oh My God! moments. (32 more chances for Duke/Pine Bluff bludgeonings, too, but nobody remembers those games a week later, while we'll all be able to spell Farokhmanesh for the rest of our lives.) If you capital-l Love college basketball, more games that count mean more games to watch without guilt.

So bring on the field of 96. That, to abuse once again a catchphrase, is change we can believe in, even if it means tradition gets punted.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gimme Two

I'm in the Salt Lake City airport with two hours to kill. Time for me to do my part to further the G:TB family's enjoyment of this terrific college basketball weekend.

Here's a little Johnny Utah to go with the final games of the first two rounds.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And Then There Were Thirty-Two

Consider this a forum for day 3 comedy rhombii, and a place to show some love for hoops-related mid-90's music for which no real videos appear to be available on YooToob. Guru had a heart attack and fell into a coma a few weeks ago, so show some love for Gang Starr even if the video is visually weak.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Madness, Day 1: "...and if you don't know, now you know"

"Now they sip champagne when they thirst-ay..."

Special thanks to ODU, Murray State, Ohio, BYU AND Florida, Robert Morris, Wake and St. Mary's for making yesterday the best Day 1 of a NCAA Tournament that I can ever remember.

Now if we can only get Day 2 to be half as exciting we're golden...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let the Madness Begin

I hate to bump down another terrific podcast, but it's the first day of the Dance, and you all need to be excited. I believe Mark has a post on the way, but just in case he doesn't, why don't you watch these tourney buzzer beaters and get fired up:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Which Dante Calabria Gets Some Run

Welcome to the 3rd volume of Gheorghe: The Podcast. In this very special March Madness edition, the team actually manages to deliver a focused, somewhat brief essay on what we love about the tournament. Among other nuggets for the discerning listener:
  • Mark tells a story about his parents' child-rearing style that explains quite a bit

  • We agree that John Wall seems like kind of a dick, though we also agree that he's a phenomenal player

  • Whitney gets caught by his mother doing something alone in his room

  • We prepare for face painting

  • Rob admits to crying - which makes him more rather than less of a man

Consider this an aural appetizer (get your mind out of the gutter, KQ) in advance of the greatest four days in the sports calendar.

Happy St. Patrick's Day...and a Question of the Day

Mark emails to ask, "Guess which G:TB staff member was drunk before you ate lunch today?" Shockingly, the answer is not me. Or Whit.

And the tournament starts tomorrow? Fuck, motherfucking yeah!

Happy St. Patrick's Day All.

The Naming Convention

What's in a name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet; i.e., "Rhymenocerous" begat "TR," and all indications are that he still smells the same.

As life moves on, there are times when it suits individuals to become anonymous. Our old chum Darren use to proclaim it as one of the three guiding principles of his life in college:

1. Remain anonymous at all costs.
2. Ignore your problems until they go away.
3. If they don't go away, they were too big to handle in the first place.

For others, it's a "time and place" sort of issue, usually precipitated by parents, employers, or psychotic ex-girlfriends. As such, now is the time when one of your favorite Gheorghe contributors is poised to adopt a pen name. Though you may claim he's more George Evans than Mark Twain, he's eager to shed the constraints of his given name and take on a clever cloak of mystery.

To that end, please let the comments of this post serve as a communal Suggestion Box for clever blogonyms from which to select the best moniker as deep cover ensues.

Thank you kindly for your participation.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Most Unusual Week in Wrenball

Much virtual ink has been spilled about the unfairness of William and Mary's postseason hoops fate, some of it right here in our comments section. Some of it by your humble author. It was bad enough that North Carolina, possessors of a 16-16 regular season record and lower RPI rating than the noble Wrens, would be tabbed to host the teams' NIT opener. Then, insult was added to injury when UNC chose to bypass the palatial Dean Dome in favor of Carmichael Arena, thumbing their blue-blooded noses at the interlopers from Williamsburg, defenders of the underdog faith and representatives of all that's good and holy in college athletics.

We're nothing if not up for some righteously impotent indignation. But a funny thing happened on the way to the soapbox. The tag team combo of perspective and reality are a persuasive pair. Wheelhouse Jerry would be proud of me.

The perspective theme has been explored here at some length as it relates to W&M's season in the sun. That doesn't change this simple truth: if we were told in November that the Tribe would be playing the defending champion Tar Heels in the first round of a postseason tournament in March, every single W&M fan would've been ecstatic. We wouldn't have believed it, but we would have been ecstatic. It was telling that my first, second, and third reactions after seeing the W&M/UNC matchup were all some form of glee - that the Tribe got shafted honestly didn't occur to me until I started looking around the interwebs to gauge public reaction.

And as for reality, well, we can rant, rave, and gnash our teeth until they're ground to dust, but that won't change the fact that the big programs and their money rule the NCAA. Thus has it always been, thus shall it always be. It's why we'll see a 96-team tournament sooner rather than later. It's why we don't have a football playoff. And it's why William & Mary will play its second-ever postseason tournament game in Chapel Hill.

Acceptance isn't nearly as fun as unhinged lunacy, but it has a way of focusing one's attention on the matter at hand. Even without the injured Ed Davis, Carolina has talent, tradition, and the home court on its side. But this game means immensely more to William & Mary than it does to a UNC team that's gone through the motions for weeks and will be playing in a gym usually reserved for the women's team. Roy Williams will be certain to remind his charges that W&M's already knocked off a pair of ACC teams this season, so the Wrens won't be sneaking up on the Heels. And Tony Shaver will tell his team that UNC has a tendency to be lazy on defense, soft on the boards, and erratic from the outside.

All things being equal, the Tribe is still climbing a steep slope. But if those things remain equal, I'll take the little guy's heart and attitude over a team playing out the string in a game about which they couldn't care less.

Give 'em hell, Tribe.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Greasetruck Tackles Time Travel

In August 2019, when North American Grand Vizier TJ asked me to write a post on time travel for G:TB, I said, "Sure! My slate is empty now that I've finished my piece on the NBA's legalization of cloning." In less than a decade, every team will have Magic, a Bird, a Jordan, a Shaq and a Chamberlain. You're probably wondering: does this make coaching more important than ever? Or is it just stupid to watch someone talk trash to themselves? And if you assist yourself, are you playing favorites? You'll have to wait until September 2019 to know the answers to those questions, but I've traveled back in time to give you a little taste of what the future will bring.

The first thing to remember about time travel is that you are doing it right now . . . just rather slowly. You are a time machine. The best way to illustrate your time traveling power is to fuck over your future self. An easy way to do this? Take a trip to the tattoo parlor and get a ridiculous tattoo. A tequila worm or Garfield giving the finger or the name of an obscure band or, if you are particularly daring, the name of your college girlfriend. Then step inside your skin and wait. Eventually, your future self will be pissed off by what you did in the past. But fortunately, your future self can't hop into a time machine and go back in time and punch you in the face. Other ways to fuck your future self: start smoking, spend all your money on exotic pets, or pierce your testicles. Or get a REALLY bad tattoo.

For an in depth look at time travel, read Chuck Klosterman's new book Eating the Dinosaur. He has an essay devoted to the topic.

The best time travel movie ever made is Primer. I won't even attempt to explain the plot, but this chart helps. Ha!

Here the six runner-ups to Primer: 12 Monkeys, Time Bandits, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Terminator 2, and Memento.

The best time travel scene is from the original Planet of the Apes.

And the best song about time travel is by Greasetruck. The competition is one of the most annoying songs ever: "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The song is called "Past Me," and it reverses the old adage, "if I only knew then what I know now." In this song, Past Dave comes to see what his future self is like and he is disgusted, but what can he do? This is how his life turns out. And it was based on Past Dave's choices. So how can he complain? Past Dave is lucky he's got a future self at all, and though he may be disgusted by what he's turned into, it's not really his decision any more. And he has to assume some responsibility for how things turned out. Imagine if your past selves had input into your life now? Those past selves are idiots! They got you into this mess in the first place!

Click above on the widget to hear the song. It's SFW (as long as you don't care if you appear to be retarded). The lyrics are below. I'm proud of the opening, I think it sonically captures what it's like to travel through time. I pretty much yelled the lyrics in one take and ran them through an amp simulation . . . I'm sick of trying to sing. Maybe someday Random Idiots will make another song. In the meantime, Greasetruck would like to thank all the fans for putting up with these recondite topics, and Greasetruck promises that the next song will something everyone can appreciate. Seriously. The next Greasetruck song is going to be about food. Everybody likes food, right? Almost as much as William and Mary basketball.

Past Me

If you knew then what I know now—so what?
But if I knew now, what you knew then . . . well.
If the Past Me, if he could see,
what I’ve become, the things I’ve done--

He’d build a time machine, in order to perceive
What had become of him, but he would not believe
He’d want to laugh at me, he’d want to torture me
He’d want to put me down, out of my misery.

You’d think I’d be surprised, but I’ve been expecting him.
Hell, the idea was mine . . . I ask Me, "How you been?"
So sad to disappoint, Past Me would want a joint.
But my kids would smell the smoke, and my wife can’t take a joke.
But look at my counter top! It’s made of solid rock!
I can come home and cook, got friends on the Facebook.
I’ve got a little phone . . . equity for a loan.

Past Me is not impressed. Past Me is past depressed
I am his future self. I built a nice book shelf
Past me he doesn’t care. Past me looks at my hair.
I see a tear drop fall, his future’s bleak and bald.

I talk about our kids, how they look, the things they did.
Past Me, he doesn’t care, he interested in knowing where
I keep the fishing gear, my new snowboard and all the beer.
I say, "I'm sorry Me, I don’t have what you need."

And then he stubs his toe on a loose Lego,
and so he starts to swear. I say, "Hey think of where
you are, there’s kids around." He looks at me and frowns,
gets in our time machine, heads back to where we’ve been

I yell before I go,"Please Buy Google’s IPO!"
But it’s too late he’s gone, back to where he thinks it’s fun.
And to get back at me, he knows just what to do.
He’ll get really stoned and go and get a bad tattoo.
And Future Dave, well I'll have to live with it,
rest of my days spent showing off a giant squid.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Even a Miracle Needs a Hand*

rob's been here all week (and all season) banging the drum. You've seen the pretty "Team X" comparisons he prepared for us (or maybe you didn't, since he just randomly dumped them in the comments section the other day). FOG:TB MGL made the argument the other day. Seth Davis apparently wasted seconds of his life tweeeting with Squirrel over the Tribe's chances. The Washington Post throws us a bone this morning. And the William and Mary hoopsters' own Sgt. Hulka, Coach Tony Shaver, will be on ESPN Gameday at 12:20 to remind the selection committee one more time to check their board, and make sure the Wrens are included as a 12 seed in the West.

But, come on, all that being said, I think we still realize it would take an honest to god miracle to get William and Mary into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

*First and foremost, we would need to see if this gentleman is available to assist us in our efforts.

*It probably also wouldn't hurt to get some Mike and the Mechanics on your music player of choice.

*Don't ask this guy for help...he's just gonna send the FBI.

*What are Chris Piper, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard and Jeff Gueldner up to? They might be able to help us.

*1947 Edmund Gwenn or 1994 Richard Attenborough might have something up their sleeves.

*Father Guido Sarducci represented himself as an expert on miracles...he's got to be looking for work. (Must say though I was never a huge fan of the schtick)

*Perhaps we can get Jerry Koosman and Mike Eruzione to team up in some sort of Miracle Wonder Twins duo. "Form of...a NCAA bid!"

I'm all out folks...let's just hope the miraculous happens later today.

*I apparently really enjoy this obscure holiday cartoon. Why I do not know.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

By Popular Request

Open thread for college basketball commentary. Because who are we to disappoint our readers?

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Artist of the Indefinite and Undefined Period

It's a rainy, dismal morning here in the National Capital region and the weekend forecast calls for periods of gray gloom followed by downpours and drenching melancholy. All of which sounds like the perfect excuse to sit on the couch and watch hour after hour of college basketball. Thanks, National Weather Service!

Until then, dig on Mumford and Sons, an indie band from London who've been described as the British Avett Brothers. In G:TBLand, that's high praise, indeed. This song's been stuck in my head for the past two weeks. (There's a NSFW word in the chorus, so turn the sound down if you'd prefer not to be admonished by HR.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There are smart criminals. And then there is this guy.

You are looking live at Wichita, Kansas:
WICHITA, Kan., March 9 (UPI) -- Kansas authorities said an injured man pulled over during a traffic stop told officers he was beaten for using Monopoly money to purchase drugs.

The Wichita Police Department said the 33-year-old man, whose name was not released, was bleeding from the head when he was pulled over Thursday and told officers he had recently used Monopoly money to purchase several hundred dollars worth of crack cocaine, KSDK-TV, St. Louis, Mo., reported Tuesday.

"The man from whom he had bought the drugs was upset and invited him over to his house and upon arrival struck him in the head several times with a handgun and other people jumped into the fray," police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

Police said the victim's injuries were not life threatening and he has stopped cooperating with the investigation. However, officers said they are still searching for the man's attackers.
We need to pause for a moment here, the police spokesman apparently is a huge David Caruso fan and just couldn't resist his chance...
"That was not a get-out-of-jail-free card," Bassham said.
Oh yeah, last thing - we here at G:TB were able to obtain a photo of the culprit:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NBA Tidbits

Some people say the NBA is Fantastic, especially as the regular season winds down and we anticipate a 19 month-long playoff session filled with three-hour games and studio shows with 19 "analysts" apiece. I concur, even if my favorite team is an embarrassment, its owner is more of a fat, pussy toad than Hideki Irabu and the team next door stinks even more. With no purpose or motive in mind, here are some nuggets to think about while you pick your nose and rub the boogies on the underside of your desk. A couple are inspired by a recent TBL story, but the rest were sowed from the author's curly crown.

The Milwaukee Bucks - They are 5 games over .500 and currently hold the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference. Andrew Bogut is having an exceptional year, averaging 16/10, shooting 53% from the field and blocking 2.5 blocks per game. He's only 25 years old, his stats have improved every year, and he still may have enough upside to justify the hefty contract he signed a couple years ago. And Brandon Jennings' retro hair experiments are just fantastic. I sincerely hope he starts a trend of NBA athletes bringing back the looks of the past. But not the short-shorts-over-spandex look. Sorry, Kenny.

LeBron versus Durant - One sweet side-plot to the end of the season is the race for the scoring title. LBJ currently leads, but the Mathematics Dept. at Gheorghe: The University tells us that Durant needs 52 in his next game, or 41 in each of his next two, to tie for the lead. Seems plausible. No charge for the long division.

The Nets Fail to Fail Well - It is somewhat enjoyable and depressing to watch the Nets continue to flounder at such an epic rate. Local viewers get to hear Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Ian Eagle try to come up with positives in what has been a disaster of a season. However, the Nets are likely to continue winning just enough to avoid being the worst team ever. After a horrendous 4-43 start, the team has caught fire, winning 3 of its next 15 to raise its winning percentage from .085 to .113. That's a 33% increase. Let's see the Lakers do that. Alas, the team lost a squeaker to the Grizzlies the other night to start a new losing streak. The Nets need to finish 1-18 in their last 19 games to secure the worst record ever. And they have games against Philly, Sacramento, Detroit, Washington and Indiana. For the record, the Nets split the season series with the Knicks, two games apiece. Naturally.

The Charlotte Bobcats - Currently locked into the 7th or 8th place in the East. Say what you want about the emergence of Wallace and Felton and Stephen Jackson's Tommy Davidson nostrils, but nobody wants to watch this team in a playoff series. And by nobody, I mean me. Derrick Rose, please.

Battle of the Griffins - Taylor is clearly outplaying Blake this year. Taylor is averaging 1 ppg and 0.2 rpg more than his brother. Blake, however, is at least outperforming Eddie. And Eddie.

Battle of the Michael Jackson fans - In another sibling rivalry, Brook continues to outplay Robin, although Robin's hair is so damn awesome that I'm calling this one a draw.

Joe Smith - He is with his 11th team (singly counting his two T-Wolves stints) in his 15-year career. It's really amazing what a quasi-valuable lump of mush he's turned out to be, although you have to think he's a good locker room guy to have hung on so long. Chris Wilcox has big shoes to fill if he wants to be the greatest journeyman power forward from the University of Maryland. Meanwhile, Jerrod Mustaf is quietly crying into his Auntie Anne's pretzel on his lunch-break from the Rockville, Maryland Foot Locker where he works. And where Lonnie Baxter recently submitted an application.

Anthony Johnson - It's one thing to be a former #1 pick who settles into a long career as a role player. It's another when you're the 40th pick in the 1997 draft and you're still hanging around, despite peaking as an average back-up PG over five years ago. It shows you how valuable it is to have a PG who does things by the book. He is clearly the best player in the NBA who looks a lot like Beetlejuice. And I believe he is earning $2MM this year. Not bad. Some gems drafted ahead of him in the '97 Draft include Antonio Daniels (4), Ron Mercer (6), Brevin Knight (16), Chris Anstey (18), Paul Grant (20), Rodrick Rhodes (24), Serge Zwikker (30) and Charles O' Bannon (32).

Zen, Bitches

I've gotten into Eastern religious theory of late, in large part to try to make sense of the Tribe's loss to ODU and NIT destiny (seriously, have you seen Memphis' schedule?), the fiscal crisis in California, and Nomar Garciaparra's retirement. I find the chanting soothing, but a little incomprehensible.

Thankfully for me, and for many of my colleagues on the G:TB masthead, the world has MC Happiness.

Non-Partisan Opinion of California: They're Pretty Much Screwed

I strongly urge the loyal readers of this site to read this article in the Opinions section today's Wall Street Journal. Before you (accurately) start scoffing that the WSJ's Opinions sections is generally a farcical extremely right-wing view of the world, allow me to preface your reading by stating that the article is, for the most part, a factual depiction of one FUBAR aspect of the state of California's sorry financial condition.

Here's a snippet for you too lazy (or too liberal) to mind-graze on their web site. It references a bill passed about a decade ago that determines pensions for many public employees:

The bill refigured the compensation formula for pension benefits of all public-safety employees who retired on or after January 1, 2000. It let firefighters retire at age 50 and receive 3% of their final year's compensation times the number of years they worked. If a firefighter started working at the age of 20, he could retire at 50 and earn 90% of his final salary, in perpetuity. One San Ramon Valley fire chief's yearly pension amounted to $284,000—more than his $221,000 annual salary.

In 2002, the state legislature further extended benefits to many nonsafety classifications, such as milk and billboard inspectors. More than 15,000 public employees have retired with annual pensions greater than $100,000. Who needs college when you can get a state job and make out like that?

The article broadly references why the state schools are squeezing kids in California - to pay the bloated pension obligations the state signed into law years ago. Makes you wonder if bankruptcy might be the best bet for the state. I read this article the same morning that I received a New Jersey Transit notification that fares will increase 25% and the number of trains in service will decline, in response to the state finally atoning for its own fiscal sins and closing its budget shortfall. It makes a man re-think his mission in life. And then return to attempting to pick his nose at his desk without getting caught.

Brutal juice for many to drink. Not this brutal juice, but brutal juice nonetheless. Happy hump day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This Week in Wrenball: Not Done Yet

I know we’re supposed to be sad that William & Mary fell a step short of making the NCAA Tournament yet one more time. We didn’t reach the summit, so we’re to be disappointed. But here’s the thing: as I sat in the Richmond Coliseum and looked at the scoreboard showing W&M trailing conference regular season champion ODU by 5 points with 5 minutes left to play, I realized that the outcome was almost secondary to me. I desperately wanted them to complete their second-half comeback, to be sure, but the game reminded us, once again, of the joy inherent in the pursuit, in the small moments.

In a Danny Sumner drive and dunk over a bigger opponent, contested three-point baskets, and one-man effort to bring the Tribe back from a 15-point second-half deficit.

In David Schneider’s all-akimbo three-point shot, and full-court intuition, instinct, and drive.

In Quinn McDowell’s gritting his teeth through the pain of an ankle injury to limp to the line and drain a pair of free throws.

In the increasingly urgent back-and-forth roars of two engaged fanbases.

In Marcus Kitts and Steven Hess taking everything Gerald Lee dished out in the paint (and I hope your small children weren’t watching, because Lee did unspeakable things with his knees, elbows, and hips) and giving as well as they got.

In Tony Shaver’s unceasing optimism, patience, and perspective.

And finally, in realizing that William & Mary – picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA – proved yet again that they belonged on that stage. ODU was bigger, stronger, and better. But the Tribe scared 'em, and if that Sumner three had dropped to cut the deficit to 4 in the final minutes, who knows what might have happened.

Damn, but that team doesn’t have an ounce of quit in it. Even if we as fans wavered in our belief.

The fact that this isn’t the valedictory for what may go down as the best team in W&M history is victory in some sense. We’re almost certain to be previewing an NIT game here in a week or so. To paraphrase FOG:TB Michael Litos (who, once again, was awesome in his coverage of the CAA Tourney and in his generosity to us in Richmond), if I told you before the season that the Wrens would be going to the NIT, would you take it?

Hell, yeah, I would.

Maybe this will boost your spirits

I saw this in today's Times and it made me laugh. Maybe it will assuage some of your pain from last night's CAA championship game.

Meanwhile, the whitewash of Josef Stalin continues.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Of Ugly Babies and Icewater Veins

David Schneider shot the Wrens into the CAA semifinals, making 6 of 9 threes and scoring 23 points to partner Danny Sumner's 22 in a hard-fought comeback win over JMU. Then he nearly shot W&M out of the tournament, missing all 8 shots he took over the first 39:23 of the Tribe's semifinal against Northeastern.

We'll forgive those first 8 misses.

After Manny Adako's layup gave the Huskies a very hard-earned 45-44 lead, Schneider stepped into a three-pointer from the right wing, and yet another awkward-looking, sideways-spinning longball from the second-team All-CAA guard found bottom. Northeastern had no fewer than 8 attempts at the basket in the game's final 30 seconds, but when none of them dropped, W&M found itself headed to the school's second CAA title game in three years.

Ugly never looked quite so good.

The Wrens raced out to a 31-17 halftime lead on the strength of a balanced scoring attack and terrific defensive rebounding. As has been their modus operandi all season, W&M and prosperity did their oil and water thing in the second half. Northeastern stepped up their defensive intensity and W&M went nearly 7 minutes without a field goal. The Tribe's defense was good enough to keep the game close, but when Matt Janning's throws gave the Huskies a 43-42 lead at the 3:02 mark, it felt for all the world like the Tribe's terrific season was destined to end.

Somewhere deep in the Richmond Coliseum's aging bowels (note to editor: please change this language before publishing this. Because, ewwww.) a game group of Northeastern players are still trying to figure out how their own season is over. Seniors Matt Janning, Manny Adako, Baptiste Bataille, and Nkem Ojougboh fell short tonight, but their contributions to the resurgence of the Northeastern program will last a great deal beyond this season. It's cliche to claim disappointment that both teams couldn't win (and really, it's not true - I'm really damn glad that the Tribe's seniors will play tomorrow instead of Northeastern's), but I'd have rather beaten anyone else in the league than Bill Coen's group.

W&M followed Janning's freebies with a wild tip-in by Marcus Kitts to set up the late-game drama. (And if you're a fan of nail-biting college basketball action, how about the last two days of the CAA tournament?) In a game where 8 W&M players tallied, but none of them scored more than 8 points, it seems somehow fitting that their all-court senior leader willed his final shot into the bucket.

Regardless of what happens next, seniors David Schneider, Danny Sumner, and Steven Hess (and junior Marcus Kitts) have taken William & Mary to 2 CAA title games in 3 years. The language needs a word stronger than unprecedented to capture that. This one might be slightly less a bolt out of the blue than 2008's 'That Just Happened' thrill ride. But it's every bit as edge-of-our-seat, pump-of-our-fist exhilarating.

The Tribe faces a mentally and physically tough ODU team that handled them fairly easily twice this season. The Monarchs won the league's regular season championship, and beat Big East heavy Georgetown on the road. ODU's big, they rebound well, and they play suffocating half-court defense. The hill, she is steep.

We wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I Hope YOUR Buffalo Dies of Diarrhea! Fuck Yeah!

Next year, I am headed to Laxmipur. This is just what my kids need.

Sat Feb 27, 4:32 PM

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Each year, Nepalese youth in two villages in the south of the Himalayan country save up their choicest insults for a 10-day "cursing festival" that reaches its climax Sunday.

The youngsters in the neighbouring villages of Parsawa and Laxmipur hurl insults at each other, their neighbours, villagers and passers-by -- and then laugh.

They gather in parks and other areas around straw heaped in the shape of a phallus to launch into the insults.

Insults like, "Monkey face, I hope your sons are as ugly as frogs," and "I hope your buffaloes die of diarrhea," ring out along with more obscene curses.

Village elders say the annual festival, which is just for youngsters, has been going on for as long as they can remember.

"I know of this tradition from long ago and took part during my youth," 78-year-old Ram Kumar Mishra told AFP by telephone from the region.

"The best thing about this tradition is after the festival is over, everyone feels good about each other. There are no bad feelings," Mishra, who lives in Parsawa, said.

On the last day of the festival -- this year on Sunday -- they set the heaps of straw ablaze and celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, which is marked by raucous fights using powdered coloured paints and water.

"We don't get to curse at any other time. But during the festival we're allowed to -- even in front of our parents and we all have a jolly good time," 16-year-old Raju Raut said after cursing his best school friend.

"Everyone gets cheered up," he said.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Smithsonian Says "No thanks" to Simpson, Found Dead Behind Air and Space Museum

When in doubt, it's hard to go wrong with Orenthal. Just a little filler to tide you over until the CAA Tournament starts at noon.

Smithsonian turns down suit worn by OJ Simpson

LOS ANGELES – What O.J. Simpson wore when he was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife and her friend was the suit seen around the world during one of the most watched televised moments in history.

But the Smithsonian Institution, America's repository of historical artifacts, rejected it Tuesday as inappropriate for their collection.

Announcement of the museum's snub came the morning after a California judge approved the donation as the solution to a 13-year court battle over the carefully tailored tan suit, white shirt and yellow and tan tie. The ensemble has been held by Simpson's former sports agent, Mike Gilbert...

...The Smithsonian announced its decision with a terse announcement on its Web site.
"The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will not be collecting O.J. Simpson's suit," it said. "The decision was made by the museum's curators together with the director."

Gilbert, who has the suit in storage, said he was disappointed with the decision. "Whether we like it or not, it's part of American history," he said. "I'm disappointed that they didn't wait to hear from me and consider my vision of how it should be displayed."

Attorney Ronald P. Slates, who represents Simpson, said he's keeping his client informed about the donation effort. Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Biderman consulted Simpson by phone Monday, then approved Gilbert's plan after Simpson said he would agree as long as no one made any money.

"I'm saddened by the fact that the foremost museum in America has refused this very important item in the history of American jurisprudence," Slates said. "Regardless of one's feelings about Mr. Simpson, his acquittal by a jury of his peers on Oct. 3, 1995 was of great significance and is widely talked about to this day."

Well said, Mr. Slates. We admire your sense of perspective and tenacity in pursuit of justice for O.J.'s suit. We know you won't rest until it joins Monica Lewinski's blue dress in history's walk-in closet.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

What is this "hockey" you speak of?

Apparently, yesterday was the trade deadline in the NHL. Not the first trade deadline mind you, that occurred pre-Olympics, but the second deadline. I know this only because Work Jerry told me. To which I said, "OK hockey boy, why don't you sum up all the trade goodness for the loyal reader of G:TB." Much to my surprise, he took time away from his beer blog and newborn twins to actually write something. And in the rarest of occurrences, we discuss hockey today in this corner of the internet (warning...this blurb was sent to me with one comment only - "it's longer than a Whitney music review"):

You were probably too busy recovering from your Olympic hockey hangover to notice that yesterday, when the clock struck 3pm, the NHL trade deadline passed. As usual there were winners and losers but mostly losers. Anaheim and Calgary swapped backup goaltenders - that’s awful.

While most of the deals were a waste of time a few teams showed a sense of purpose at the deadline and made good deals. Of course, just because you get better doesn’t mean you will have more success. The teams below made the best deals of the day so we will loosely call them the “winners.”

Winners – Sort of
Pittsburgh Penguins – they gave up Martin Skoula and prospect Luca Caputi but the Pens are a young team so maybe that makes Caputi expendable to acquire Alexei Pnokarovsky. This gives Pittsburgh an upgrade in their top 6 forwards making a scary team scarier. The obvious question is did Pittsburgh really need to upgrade its offense? Sorry Caps fans but the Eastern Conference still goes through Pittsburgh.

Buffalo Sabres – acquired Raffe Torres from Columbus for Nathan Paestch. It’s probably better that Paestch got traded because he never really cracked the starting lineup. Buffalo’s front six forwards are soft so Torres brings toughness and 20+ goals so it was a good trade. That leaves four forwards and two defensemen that could or should have been dealt. Even with Torres the Sabres are still far behind the likes of Pittsburgh, Washington, New Jersey.

Washington Capitals – picked up defenseman Joe Corvo, which the team sorely needs, but gave up a lot to get him. Particularly Oskar Osala. Sure, Hershey is stacked but Osala has quite an upside. Let’s not also forget that G is still an issue for Washington. Their current roster is good enough for repeat visits to the Conference Finals but they don’t have the necessary skills between the pipes to compete with top quality goaltending. They certainly don’t have enough to bring home the Cup. Frankly, the Detroit Redwings were the only team to win a Cup with average G when they relied on Chris Osgood.

Edmonton Oilers – the Oilers were busy leading up to the deadline but it’s their last deal that helps them most. Acquiring Ray Whitney from Anaheim for Lubomir Visnovsky may be one of those rare trades that helps all parties. Whitney is a good defenseman who struggled in Anahiem so a change of scenery might do him well. Let’s not discount the trouble Edmonton has in attracting quality players. Free agents shun the city so acquiring Whitney, who has a lot of upside, could be a long-term winner for the team. Oh, and Visnovsky is an obvious upgrade for Anaheim.

West Coast teams – because nobody pays attention to them anyway. Actually, you could say most of the Western Conference.

Washington Capitals Announcers – please stop coming up with clever new names for hockey terms. It is bad enough we lost the unique division names (Adams, Norris, etc). Every time we try to watch the Caps it’s the sin bin (penalty box) or the cage (goal) or a twig (hockey stick). Sin bin is almost offensive and nobody uses wood sticks anymore.

"We talked to a lot of people about lots of things, not necessarily about that, but just nothing made sense. It takes two to tango. Sometimes you want to do something and they don't, and sometimes they want too much and that's why deals don't get made.
- Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to on Wednesday evening.

This is a classic line for GMs who didn’t bother to make a quality trade to improve a team that is just a player or two short of greatness. In fact, as a Sabres fan we would appreciate it if Mr. Bowman acknowledges that this quote was practically invented by Darcy Regier.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Very Special This Week in Wrenball

Friend of G:TB Wheelhouse Jerry coined the phrase 'futile superfans' several years ago to describe our generally quixotic semi-obsession with William & Mary hoops. For a great many years before and after the birth of that appellation, futile was perhaps too kind a word. W&M's hoops history is the stuff of G:TB legend: the 9-45 combined record from 1988 to 1990; the 100-38 loss to Duke in 1988; never winning more than a single conference tournament game from 1985 to 2008 (going 3-22 in tourney games during that span); the never...I think you get the point.

Then we woke up on January 2, 2010 to find William & Mary ranked #2 in the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index. ESPN's Andy Katz praised the Tribe and touted them as an at-large candidate to make the NCAA Tournament. Dick Vitale mentioned W&M in a national broadcast. They started showing up in mock brackets. Dogs and cats, living in sin.

G:TB readers know the rest of the story - the Tribe faded a bit down the stretch, going from 14-3 (and winners of 14 of 15) to 20-9. In-conference opponents had a opportunity to scout Tony Shaver's revamped offense, senior leader David Schneider went into a prolonged shooting slump, and the emotional highs of the early season proved impossible to sustain over the long slog of an 18-game conference slate. It would be entirely natural in the cold reality of the present to focus on W&M's 6-6 finish and feel just a little disappointed.

Entirely natural and completely insane at the same time. William & Mary, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA did the following in 2009-10:
  • Won 20 games for just the third time in the school's entire 317-year history. Thomas Jefferson's teams never won 20.
  • Beat a pair of ACC teams on the road, something that had never before been done in a single season by any CAA team. Maryland is clearly the second-best team in the ACC, and the Tribe legitimately whipped 'em in College Park. Wake Forest is in top 30 of the RPI, and W&M's win in Winston-Salem was just as solid.
  • Topped in-state archrival Richmond, now ranked in the top 25.
  • Finished the regular season with a better RPI (60) than UNC (86), Memphis (66), Virginia (114 - and boy, did W&M have a better athletic year than our friends in Charlottesville), and UCLA (134), among a great many other traditionally strong programs.
  • Finished third in a very competitive CAA.

The Tribe gets an entirely unexpected day of rest this weekend, sitting out their customary first-round CAA Tournament game. W&M gets the winner of Drexel/JMU at 8:30 on Saturday night. The team that lived a charmed life during a thoroughly enjoyable regular season gets one more break from the hardwood deities: the Wrens are 6-1 against the 5 other teams in their half of the tournament, 6-5 versus the top portion of the bracket. The Tribe swept Drexel, their likely quarterfinal opponent.

As I've written before, yes we can. Keep hope alive. Pleasegodletusmakeittothebigdanceonceinmylife.