Tag Archives: gamble gamble gamble

Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging

I just came in from playing my first round of golf since Thanksgiving.

Oof.

The last couple springs and summers, I played a lot of golf.  This is worth noting because I.  Am.  AWFUL.  Golf is an expensive habit, but there is a public “club” with two courses that is about a 10-15 minute drive from both home and work.  If you go after 3:00 p.m., there is a discounted rate; plus, you can buy a discount card at the beginning of the season that shaves another five bucks off the greens fee, and earns you free rounds the more you play, essentially paying for itself if you play with any regularity at all.

A couple buddies and I would go pretty much whenever we had an mid-week off day that coincided, plus either a Saturday or Sunday almost every weekend.  Seriously, a lot of golf.  You’d think I would improve.  And I do, but at some point, you are what you are.  And what I am is a bad golfer.

Even better, though, is the fact that despite being so atrocious, we like to gamble while we golf.  In addition to the simple “whoever has the fewest strokes” thing that is, like, the point of the game, we also track match play results, a putting contest, and a game that awards points for being the first one on the green, the closest to the pin, and the first to hole out.

In English: we have a problem.

But if you think about it, it makes sense.  How can you possibly feel good about going out and shooting a 124?  Well, when you walk away with 30 extra bucks, essentially getting a free round of golf out of the day, it certainly eases the pain.

Most people don’t like doing things they’re not good at.  But golf is one of those things where once the bug bites you, it’s terminal.  When I walk up to the first tee, I bring my 3-hybrid, not my driver.  Why?  Because if I take my driver, the ball is going about 50 yards before careening into the nearest forest, regardless of what side of the fairway it’s situated on (I’m an equal opportunity ball-donater).  But with the hybrid, there’s a 50/50 shot that the ball actually lands relatively close to where I want it to go.  This sequence plays itself out on every hole, 18 times a day, every weekend, all summer.

I always describe my personal opinion like this: despite the fact that I just swung out of my shoes, drove my club into the ground, and chunked the ball about eight yards down the fairway, the next shot could be the best shot I ever hit.

And that’s the thing: when you’re as bad as I am, you don’t know when you might hit a fantastic shot.  But if you don’t pick up the club, you’ll never know.

In some ways, golf is a metaphor for life, isn’t it?

(For the record, I shot a 134.  Worst score I’ve posted in a while.  Early rust.  Good putts lipping out.  Great tee shots that hit an invisible wall and plummeted from the sky.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

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You’re Not the One, But You’re the Only One

The other day I alluded to the debate over whether a woman could ever play in the NBA.  This has been a topic of discussion recently after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban commented that he would consider drafting Baylor women’s star Brittney Griner.

Personally, I feel that yes, someday a woman will have the opportunity to play in the NBA.  That said, I don’t think that Brittney Griner will be the one.  Others have said this, and I agree: It’s not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of size, strength, and position.

Griner is a post player.  She’s 6-foot-8, which, in the women’s game, makes her stand out above the rest of the crowd (literally).  She has a post player’s game, and she uses it to dominate.

The thing is, in the NBA, post players are 6-foot-10, 6-foot-11, 7 feet tall.  Griner wouldn’t be able to compete with them.  Not at all.  In any way.  In the article I linked to in my previous post on the topic, Griner even says herself that going up against Dwight Howard would give her a taste of what others players deal with when they play against her.  And what other players deal with when facing Brittney Griner is futility.  For Pete’s sake, there was a season where she blocked more shots than any single TEAM in Division I.

As good as she may be, she’s in the wrong position.  If she added a 25-footer and superior ballhandling skills to her game, she might be able to compete as a guard.  Could you imagine?  A player with more blocked shots than any college basketball player in history – male or female – trying to break into the Association as a guard?  It’s like a college quarterback transitioning to wide receiver before the NFL Draft, except like 40 times as strange.

No, if a woman ever plays in the NBA, it won’t be a post player.  It’s going to be a guard; probably a point guard.  Someone with great speed and great ballhandling skills and the ability to knock down three-pointers from NBA range with incredible consistency.  Defense could be an issue as it relates to size, but at the same time, a lot of men have made careers in the NBA without playing a lick of defense, so it could be hidden.

The day will come when a woman gets her shot to play with the (literal) big boys in the NBA.  I promise you, that day will not be in 2013.  Probably not 2014 either.  But it will come.

* * *

NCAA: For the record, I got one digit of Michigan’s score right, and one digit of Louisville’s score right.  So there’s that.

Final NCAA Tournament Spread Picks Record: 11-14-1 (.442)

That One Shining Moment

I have no idea who is going to win the national championship game tonight.  None.  Louisville was widely regarded as the top team throughout a lot of the season and coming into the tournament.  Michigan had great expectations coming into the season, reached the number-one ranking, and then finished fifth in its own conference before embarking on their tournament run.  Both teams earned their way here, and both are deserving champions.

It turns out that this tournament has been as topsy-turvy as the season was.  Despite that, in the end, two teams that spent time at the top of the polls will do battle for the title.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to go according to form.

Louisville has used its pressure defense to blow teams out.  Michigan has one of the best backcourts in the country in regards to handling the ball, including All-American and consensus Player of the Year Trey Burke.  The Wolverines handled VCU’s “Havoc” defense with relative ease two weeks ago.

Then last weekend, Burke led Michigan to a ridiculous comeback win over Kansas in the regional semifinals before a blowout of Florida put Michigan into the Final Four.

On top of all that, 20 years ago, the “Fab Five” led Michigan to its second consecutive championship game.  That game, of course, ended with Chris Webber’s infamous calling of a timeout that the Wolverines didn’t have, leading to a technical foul that iced the game for North Carolina.  Over the ensuing two decades, an improper benefits scandal led to Michigan vacating its wins from that era and imposing a 10-year disassociation with Webber that ends in a month.  In addition, Webber has distanced himself from the other members of the Fab Five.

Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King will be in the building.  Will Webber show up?  We don’t know.  As much as I’m interested in the game itself, item 1A will be whether or not the Fab Five gets back together.

Can it end any other way?  In this down-is-up, up-is-down season, can it end any other way?

I say no.  Michigan 75, Louisville 72.

* * *

NCAA: I hit on Michigan Saturday night, but lost on Louisville.  I knew they’d go on their run, I just didn’t anticipate it being so late in the game.

The spread tonight is four points, so obviously I will take the Wolverines +4.

NIT: 18-13

CBI: 9-8

CIT: 21-10

Irrelevant Postseason Final Total: 48-31 (.608)

Lead Pipe Locks: 9-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 11-13-1

Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby

So I might as well just come right out and say it: I have four fantasy baseball teams.

I know, I know.

I didn’t do it on purpose.  I’ve been in the same league with friends from college for something like 10 years now (aside: holy crap), and about four or five years ago I joined a league that my cousin runs.  I never won, but I was usually competitive, and I wasn’t the type of player to mail in the season when I was out of contention by August.  I kept up with my lineups for the most part, made waiver pickups, all that stuff.

Then, last year, I was offered a spot with another friend in a third friend’s league.  We both accepted, and suddenly I had three teams.  And wouldn’t you know it, another offer came, from a friend who really needed to fill a spot.  One team became two became four.  Happens to everyone, right?

All four leagues have different rules, so it’s not like it’s repetitive.  Well, that’s not true; I find myself picking the same players for all of my teams, with generally disastrous results.

However, I am set up to dominate that last league I joined.  It’s a keeper league, and I have Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado as my last three draft picks for the rest of their careers.  Oh, and I just picked up super-prospect Wil Myers off the waiver wire.  If I don’t win that league for the next decade, then I must really suck at this.

(Which is entirely possible.)

* * *

NIT: I told you Baylor was going to win!  I totally nailed that one!  Chalk one up for…ah, crap.

CBI: It all comes down to this.  The final game of the non-NCAA Tournament tournaments.  I’ve been riding George Mason this week, and I’m not changing horses midstream.  Patriots for the win.

NIT: 18-13

CBI: 9-7

CIT: 21-10

Irrelevant Postseason Total: 48-30

Lead Pipe Locks: 9-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 10-12-1

Every Day I Get in the Queue

I am a fan of the idea of public transit, but the execution often leaves something to be desired.

Subways are all fine and dandy – the smell of pee and other assorted sensory experiences not withstanding – but I have a problem with buses.  And it’s not as a rider; no, my beef is when I’m on the road driving my own car.

For some reason, bus drivers feel like the world needs to stop so they can pick up or drop off passengers.  I understand that that’s how the concept works and all, but like…they pull over to the side of the road to pick up a passenger, then immediately pull away from the curb with no regard for anyone else.  Then they have the audacity to look at you indignantly when you try to go around them.  Look, buddy, there is plenty of room for people to go around you without anyone getting hurt.  Use your signals.  That’s what they’re there for.  Just because your behemoth is six times the size of my car doesn’t mean you’re in charge.

I know, I know, it’s not fair to pigeonhole bus drivers as inconsiderate, power-tripping jerks.  It just seems to apply to all the ones that drive on my daily commute.

(Look, I never promised anything earth-shattering here.  I just got stuck behind a few buses this morning and it stuck in my craw.  Wherever that is.)

* * *

NIT: The final is tonight.  My instincts tell me it’s Baylor, so that, plus the strength of the Big Ten this season, means I’m picking Iowa.

CBI: George Mason did the job, so it’s winner-take-all from Fairfax, Virginia on Friday night.  I’m tingling with excitement.  Or an electric shock, not sure which.

NIT: 18-12

CBI: 9-7

CIT: 21-10

Irrelevant Postseason Total: 48-29

Lead Pipe Locks: 9-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 10-12-1

No Sugar Tonight in My Coffee, No Sugar Tonight in My Tea

It’s been a month since that whole by-accident soda boycott thing.  I don’t know if it’s affecting me, really, but I’ve noticed that I’m more sleepy at night, which makes sense considering that I generally get too little sleep as it is.  Without the added boost from a glass of Coke or whatever, it’s almost like my body is saying “YO.  MORON.  YOU ARE TIRED.”

I don’t know how much longer I’ll go; maybe one day I’ll just resume normal beverage habits, or maybe I’ll have one Coke and then go back on another hiatus.  I don’t know.  I do know that it’s become a more prevalent part of my life than I would have expected, but lemonade and tea cooler are getting me through.  Sometimes water just ain’t enough, man.

So yeah.  If you can’t tell, I had nothing to write about today, and I needed to get a post in so I could make my basketball pick.

* * *

NIT: Hit on Baylor, miss on Maryland.  Whatever.  I’m so over this tournament.

CBI: I’m taking George Mason tonight.  C’monnnnn Patriots!

CIT: Weber State crapped the bed at home.  Unbelievable.  You think you know a team (that you’ve never seen play) and they go and pull the rug out from under you like that.  Unbelievable.

NIT: 18-12

CBI: 8-7

CIT: 21-10

Irrelevant Postseason Total: 47-29

Lead Pipe Locks: 9-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 10-12-1

I’m Going Over My Borders

I’ve always thought that kids are coddled way too much.  The second someone treats them with anything other than kid gloves, they complain and essentially go tattle to the teacher.  Oh, did your coach yell at you at pwaaactice?  Aw po baybay!

But sometimes, lines are crossed.  Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fined and suspended in December for “inappropriate behavior and language” at practices.  Everybody knew what kind of coach Rice was (is; as of this writing he is still the head coach at Rutgers), and that “inappropriate language” was pretty much part of the package.

Today, the proverbial “other shoe” dropped, as hours and hours of footage of Rice physically and verbally abusing his players was obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

I believe that we teach kids to be soft, and to whine and complain.  I got a trophy when I was in tee-ball, and since we didn’t win any sort of championship, the gesture offended me.  That’s the kind of guy I’ve always been.

That being said, Mike Rice is not being tough on his players.  He is not a coach or a mentor.  Mike Rice is a bully.  He is a bully and a coward, preying on young men that placed their trust in him.  The only consolation is that by this time tomorrow, or the day after, he will most likely be an unemployed bully.

What Rice did cannot be questioned; it’s all on videotape.  Rice’s future, or lack thereof at Rutgers, is also not up for debate; there is no way he can possibly remain in the position.  What does remain to be seen is what happens to Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti.  Pernetti saw the videotape when he launched his initial investigation into Rice’s behavior; he chose to suspend and fine Rice at the time.  While hindsight is admittedly 20/20, allowing Rice to keep his job should in no uncertain terms cost Pernetti his.

(UPDATE: Beyond that, Pernetti revealed that Rutgers University President Robert Barchi saw the tape as well, and agreed with the decision to suspend Rice.  This makes the next part of what I wrote even more apropos.)

I don’t want to pretend that what happened at Rutgers is comparable in scope and heinousness to what happened at Penn State, but the reaction of those in a position to do something about it certainly compares.  What will the NCAA do to Rutgers?  Anything?  If Rice is fired, and Pernetti follows him out the door, is everything copacetic with the folks in Indianapolis?

God, I hope not.

(And now we know the University President knew what went on and willingly allowed it to go for all intents and purposes unpunished.  They all need to go, and…well, I’d say the NCAA needs to come down hard on Rutgers, but I’ve already mentioned what little respect I have for the organization anymore, so it would be mildly hypocritical – and fantastical, really – for me to expect them to do anything in this situation.)

* * *

Whoa, total buzzkill, amiright?  Yeesh.  Let’s get back to the picks!

NIT: It’s Semifinal Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.  In the first game, I’m giving lead pipe lock status to Baylor, and in game two, I’m taking Maryland.  Ride that horse into the ground, right Coach Rice?

CBI: Santa Clara beat George Mason last night, exactly as I pred–oh.  Whoops.

CIT: Championship game tonight: East Carolina at Weber State.  As promised, I am going with the Wildcats.

(That’s Weber State.)

NIT: 17-11

CBI: 8-7

CIT: 21-9

Irrelevant Postseason Total: 46-27

Lead Pipe Locks: 8-4

NCAA Spread Picks: 10-12-1